Haringey's Oliver Tambo statue at the newly renamed Oliver Tambo Recreation Ground

Thirty-one years ago, Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa, so I’m proud that we can commemorate another giant of the anti-apartheid struggle, Oliver Tambo.

We have decided to rename Albert Road Recreation Ground as the O. R. Tambo Recreation Ground. This both reflects the long and historical relationship that Oliver Tambo has had with Haringey and further highlights our borough’s values, culture, and diversity.

In the last year, we were reminded once again of the deeply unjust and entrenched disparities that continue to exist in society. The Black Lives Matter movement brought into focus the lack of public recognition of the contributions that black people have made to our proud and rich history.

Oliver Reginald Kaizana Tambo was an anti-apartheid leader who served as the president of the African National Congress between 1967 and 1991. He is an adopted son of Haringey, having lived in exile with his family in Muswell Hill for nearly 30 years, barely 500 metres away from the park that we are now renaming in his honour.

Haringey has a long and proud history of welcoming people from around the world with open arms. We are a proud multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial borough. We have been a home from home for people fleeing persecution from all over the world for generations.

Oliver, who was known as O. R. by his friends and colleagues, and his wife Adelaide fled to Haringey in the 1960s as a place of refuge from the racist South African apartheid regime. In 1990, after three decades away from his homeland, O. R. Tambo returned to South Africa.

People are often uncomfortable with change, and people may ask why place names, street names, and statues matter. We believe that they matter because, as a society, who we choose to commemorate, elevate, and celebrate, reflects the values that we place on these people, their lives and the communities that they represent. Furthermore, it reinforces a belief that their life achievements should be a role model for others.

Renaming a park or street does not eradicate racial injustice on its own, but it is one of the tangible steps we can take that ultimately makes that wider change possible.

Whilst I’m sure that it will be commonly known as Tambo Rec for short, i am delighted that this week the Cabinet took the decision to rename Albert Road Recreation Ground as the O. R. Tambo Recreation Ground. We plan to have a formal (though maybe virtual) ceremony next month.

I hope that you can join us.

Cllr Joseph Ejiofor

Labour Leader of Haringey Council

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