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University of East London students walk a mile in memory of Nelson Mandela

PUBLISHED: 16:00 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:10 18 July 2018

Staff joined South Africa'’s deputy high commissioner, Golden Neswiswi (centre) with chair of governors, Geoff Thompson (right). Picture: Rhiannon Long

Staff joined South Africa''s deputy high commissioner, Golden Neswiswi (centre) with chair of governors, Geoff Thompson (right). Picture: Rhiannon Long

Archant

Students and staff from the University of East London walked a mile in memory of Nelson Mandela today (Wednesday).

The mile circled the ExCel arena in Canning Town, to pay tribute to South African president Nelson Mandela. Picture: Rhiannon LongThe mile circled the ExCel arena in Canning Town, to pay tribute to South African president Nelson Mandela. Picture: Rhiannon Long

Ahead of their graduation, students marched around the ExCeL arena in the Royal Docks to mark 100 years since the birth of the South African president.

The Mandela Mile was led by UEL’s chair of governors, Geoff Thompson, and South Africa’s deputy high commissioner, Golden Neswiswi.

Mr Neswisi said: “Nelson Mandela said education is the tool that can be used to change the world. The students graduating here will be facing huge changes. There are still social injustices, there’s still gender disparity and there are still human rights violations, and those are the challenges that all of us as one humanity are supposed to be addressing.”

The walk was co-organised by South African staff at the university, and was one of hundreds across the UK and South Africa to mark the day.

“This is a very significant day,” he added.

“One of the things we need to do is spend this day renewing the commitments Nelson Mandela made. I’m proud to have been involved and it’s a testament to the continued relationship between the people of the UK and South Africa.”

Mr Thompson said UEL strives to reflect the same values of equality and overcoming social injustices which Nelson Mandela promoted.

He said: “UEL is about social justices which can be overcome, and our students which make up this unique institution represent that.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the sheer diversity of UEL. The world will always present challenges but the students that graduate today must seize the opportunity, and this walk is a reflective action of the work they have put in.”

Mr Thompson is the founder and associate chair of the Youth Charter for Young People, a charity which works to tackle inequality, anti-social behaviour and educational attainment issues in deprived communities. He said the charter’s work is inspired by the values of Nelson Mandela.

He said: “I wanted to see the work of the charter reflected in the students that graduated.

“We want to create social change, and the walk reflects not only the hopes and dreams of our students graduating but also the legacy of Mr Mandela.”

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