A MAN who shared a cell with Nelson Mandela opened up about his experiences to students across Wearside.
Zola Zembe, a fellow inmate of the late South Africa leader, along with one of Wearside’s own campaigners, spoke to pupils from six Wearside secondary schools learning about the struggle against apartheid.
The talk at the National Glass Centre marked the 20th anniversary of the first free democratic elections in South Africa.
Zola, who now lives in the North East, was among those put on trial in 1956 alongside Mandela, who died in December.
He was joined at the talk by Paul Andrew, who was a member of the anti-apartheid movement as he grew up in Sunderland and went on to be a UN Observer at the elections. A film of the session will go online as part of Sunderland’s Black History, a new resource funded by Sunderland City Council. Council leader Paul Watson, who opened the discussions, said: “I hope that hearing Zola and Paul’s stories about the struggle against apartheid, and how their personal involvement contributed to successfully bringing about freedom and democracy in South Africa, will inspire young people as well as encourage them to learn more about Sunderland’s Black History.”
Zola added: “Young people are the future and their support and engagement in addressing the challenges we still face is key.”
Paul said: “Today has reminded us about the value of democracy and of participating in what is happening around us.”
Among the audience were Year 10 history students from Sandhill View.
Ethan Dobbs said: “It was great to learn more about the movement to get rid of the apartheid regime in South Africa from people who were actually involved at the time.”
Sam Hunter added: “It was interesting to learn how someone from Sunderland got involved with the anti-apartheid movement and made a big difference.”