Memorabilia: Ann Clwyd MP

Written by Ann Clwyd MP on 2 November 2012 in Culture
Culture
Explains why she treasures a campaign poster from South Africa’s first post-apartheid elections

This article is from the October 2012 issue of Total Politics

In my Westminster office is an original ‘Mandela for President’ framed poster. It is a treasured possession and is always a good talking point when people come to my office. 
The story behind how I ended up with it is worth retelling.
I went to South Africa as an international observer of the first post-apartheid elections in May 1994. 
The sheer sense of optimism about the place was infectious and after the election I was keen to get a memento of the historic occasion. 
Unfortunately, everybody else had the same idea and all the streets had been stripped bare of the posters. 
I had asked around but nobody had one – at least that they were willing to give to me! I told the taxi driver of my woes and his face lit up. “Wait, I know exactly where I can get one!” he said. We took off at speed, but eventually he pulled up on the road side and there it was up high – all the way up a giant lamp post. In a magnificent feat of athleticism and kindness, the taxi driver hauled himself up the lamp post and pulled down the poster. I will be forever grateful to him.
The poster is a reminder of the triumph of the human spirit in overcoming great adversity – of how a man imprisoned for decades came to lead his country with humility, reason, and unity. 
I would like to think that the poster inspires my human rights campaigning work today. It acts as a reminder that many millions of people around the world are victims of political repression, but that when we persevere with hope and courage, freedom can be achieved in the end.
Ann Clwyd is Labour MP for Cynon Valley

Tags: Ann Clwyd MP, History, Issue 51, Memorabilia, Nelson Mandela

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