Doreen Lawrence on Nelson Mandela’s pivotal role in her own campaign for justice
I first met Nelson Mandela on 6 May 1993 – two weeks after my son Stephen was murdered on the streets of London.
At this point my family was trying to get the police to arrest the five suspects who we believed to be responsible for Stephen’s murder. We were given information on who the public thought the perpetrators were, but nothing was being done about it.
We were advised that Mr Mandela would be in a central London hotel and a meeting with him was quickly arranged. I remember feeling nervous at the thought of meeting such an inspirational man, who had fought for so many years and eventually became the first democratically elected president of South Africa.
He played a pivotal role in my campaign for justice for Stephen. Without Mr Mandela intervening at the time that he did, the police may not have acted so promptly for the result we were seeking. The day after the meeting, the first arrests were made.
My admiration for Mr Mandela has never wavered. He was a man of justice and truth. I later had the privilege of accepting The Lifetime Achievement Award at the Ethnic Multicultural Media Academy Awards in 2000 on his behalf, before presenting it to him at South Africa House in London.
The legacy Mr Mandela leaves behind is one that all world leaders should aspire to. The leadership he showed inspires the next generation who want to carry on working in his footsteps. South Africa is a better place because of Nelson Mandela’s tireless efforts and sacrifice in bringing about changes. However, it is not just South Africans who have benefited from this giant man.
Rest in Peace, Mr Mandela. Love,
Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon
Published 10th December 2013