Skip to content or view screen version

Nelson Mandela in Trafalgar Square

Keith Parkins | 04.02.2005 14:22 | Globalisation | Repression | Social Struggles

Nelson Mandela launched the Make Poverty History campaign to a packed Trafalgar Square lunchtime Thursday 3 February 2005.

'Nelson Mandela's presence in London sends a clear signal from one of the world's greatest heroes that 2005 is the year when we strike a huge blow against world poverty. His presence is not only a rallying cry to the public to get involved, but serves notice to rich countries that the world will not put up with false promises, delays and hollow sound bites.' -- Adrian Lovett, Oxfam

'While poverty persists there is no true freedom.' -- Nelson Mandela

'Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by human beings. And overcoming poverty is not an act of charity. It is an act of justice.' -- Nelson Mandela

'If it isn't this year, then when? I'm tired of the politics of being nice. I'm sick of standing in squares of linking arms, of tear gas, of records and concerts. I'm sick of this crap. Feed the world, feed the world still.' -- Bob Geldof

I don't know how many people were in Trafalgar Square. All I know is it was packed and the atmosphere was electric. The London Evening Standard put the figure at 20,000.

The launch of Make Poverty History started at 12 noon with African music.

A guy from Oxfam gave an excellent speech on debt, aid and trade, the themes of Make Poverty History, and every word counted, every word hit home.

Millennium targets were set to halve poverty by 2015. Five years down the line, and hell will freeze over before these targets are met.

We then had the black female R&B singer Jamelia give an excellent performance of 'Stop'. She may have been miming, but excellent nevertheless.

Some school kids down from Scotland gave us their view.

A guy from South Africa gave another stirring speech.

The world showed solidarity with America for 9/11, where is America finding solidarity with the rest of the world?

The US/UK can find the money to wage an illegal war on Iraq, why not to end poverty?

Then Bob Geldoff his thoughts.

And finally, the moment we had all been waiting for, a very frail Nelson Mandela slowly approached the mikes. The crowd went wild.

There can be few world leaders who have the stature of Nelson Mandela, the world's senior statesman. The man, Tony Benn always likes to tell us, Margaret Thatcher called a terrorist.

It was a poignant moment for me, Nelson Mandela in Trafalgar Square, outside the South African Embassy, the same location many of us had protested for decades for an end to apartheid, for the release of Nelson Mandela.

Make Poverty History is calling for action on aid, debt and trade. Poor countries are not calling for charity, they are calling for fair trade, for justice.

We have to make the same determined effort to end poverty as we did to end apartheid.

Make Poverty History is part of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty.

The Global Call to Action Against Poverty is an international campaign, but all eyes will be on the UK because the UK will hold the chair of G8 and the presidency of the EU during 2005.

On Thursday 3 February 2005, 20,000 people in Trafalgar Square called for justice.

Were you listening Mr Blair, you smug little git!

If justice is to be met, we have, as Nelson Mandela said, to call for it, to demand it, we have to stand up and make our voices heard, millions have to take to the streets, to make our corrupt leaders sit up and listen.

In a gesture of solidarity, the lions around Nelson's Column, each had a white Make Poverty History band around their necks.

Having addressed the people on Thursday, Nelson Mandela is to address the G7 finance ministers today (Friday).



Africa to miss key poverty goals, BBC News on-line, 17 January 2005

Campaign bids to end poverty trap, BBC News on-line, 3 February 2005

Noreena Hertz, IOU: The Debt Threat and Why We Must Defuse It, Fourth Estate, 2004

Mandela calls for poverty action, BBC News on-line, 3 February 2005

Mandela steals the show in London, BBC News on-line, 3 February 2005

Mandela's poverty plea in London, BBC News on-line, 28 January 2005

Mandela's poverty speech, BBC News on-line, 3 February 2005

Keith Parkins, A sense of the masses - a manifesto for the new revolution, October 2003

Keith Parkins, Sowing Seeds of Dissent, Indymedia UK, 6 September 2004

Keith Parkins, Seeds of Dissent, September 2004

Keith Parkins, Future of Food, Indymedia UK, 24 January 2005

Keith Parkins, Make Poverty History, Indymedia UK, 1 February 2005

Patrick Sawyer, Cry freedom from poverty: 20,000 in Trafalgar Square to hear Nelson Mandela call for an end to global misery, Evening Standard, 3 February 2005

Keith Parkins
- Homepage:


Display the following 6 comments

  1. dissent! poster text? — anarchoteapot
  2. Nelson Mandela's brilliant but... — Ozymandias
  3. Problem, Reaction, Solution — You get me?
  4. Poverty relief... — IMF
  5. Mandela Text Transcript of Speech — info
  6. Crowd Comments — info