Nelson Mandela Memorial FAQ

Why a Nelson Mandela Memorial at Princes Park?

The vision brought together by Mandela8 following the death of Nelson Mandela in December 2013 was to see a permanent artwork established in the Liverpool 8 area to celebrate and commemorate Nelson Mandela’s outstanding achievement for humanity and the strong links between Liverpool and South Africa. The decision to locate the memorial in the Joseph Paxton designed Grade II listed Prince’s Park followed local consultation and engagement processes and an open design tender. The memorial reflects not only the meaningful legacy of Nelson Mandela but the significant history of anti-apartheid activism in Liverpool, further detail of which can be found at Mandela8. This was reflected in the establishment of the Sunburst Gates, a key listed feature in Princes Park, as the location for a temporary memorial to his legacy following his death.

It is an exciting opportunity to showcase a significant artwork and memorial that will be integral to the process of change and promotion of diversity, humanity and equality: key principles that Nelson Mandela campaigned for all his life. The memorial design reflects an outdoor classroom to educate people of all ages about humanity, social justice and how to celebrate each other for our differences. A fundamental element of this education will also be environmental education, including the work done by ourselves, Liverpool City Council, Friends of Princes Park and others to improve the park, protect the wildlife, increase the wildlife, and continuing to value and protect wildlife in a cohabited space. Working with a range of people and organisations we want the space to be a place of cohesion and education.

Nelson Mandela cultivated a garden from 16 oil barrels when he was in Pollsmoor prison.

“A garden was one of the few things in prison that one could control. To plant a seed, watch it grow, to tend it and then harvest it, offered a simple but enduring satisfaction. The sense of being the custodian of this small patch of earth offered a small taste of freedom. In some ways, I saw the garden as a metaphor for certain aspects of my life. A leader must also tend his garden; he, too, plants seeds, and then watches, cultivates, and harvests the result. Like the gardener, a leader must take responsibility for what he cultivates; he must mind his work, try to repel enemies, preserve what can be preserved, and eliminate what cannot succeed.”

— Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Who are Mandela8?

Mandela8 started as a campaign in the Liverpool 8 community after Nelson Mandela’s passing. This campaign grew and Mandela8 was formally established as a charity in 2017. Mandela8’s initial vision was to see an internationally recognised permanent artwork that functioned as a unique space for education, performance, conversation and contemplation established within a Toxteth Liverpool 8 heritage site, to celebrate, commemorate and pursue the legacy of Nelson Mandela’s outstanding achievement for humanity. Since its establishment Mandela8 have delivered and supported a number of initiatives in L8 and beyond including the annual My 67 Minutes programme (where people give 67 minutes of their time to do acts of kindness for others representing the 67 years Nelson Mandela fought for social justice and human rights); the Roots & Wings programme for young people at risk of criminal exploitation; the introduction of the Mandela Field of Hope (a wildflower meadow established in the park during Covid 19 (securing all funding) to enhance biodiversity and provide both habitat and sources of food for wildlife and a colourful visual display for park visitors); The Angela Holligan Book Collection and the development of the Princes Avenue Steps Scheme.

More details about Mandela8, their work in the community and their patrons can be found at

What is Nelson Mandela’s connection to Liverpool?

Liverpool was an active city in anti-apartheid, boycotting South African goods and campaigning to free Nelson Mandela from prison, with local activists in Liverpool 8, union representatives and others being involved. Liverpool held the first Freedom Festival for Nelson Mandela in Liverpool 8. Liverpool City Council gave Nelson Mandela the Freedom of the City in 1994.

Nelson Mandela’s importance to Liverpool is huge. In Toxteth, Liverpool 8, Mandela remains a highly significant role model to the community. In the 1980s Liverpool 8 was tireless in its support of the anti-apartheid struggle through demos, product boycotts, park runs and the Free Nelson Mandela Campaign.

Apartheid (apartness) was a brutal system of racial segregation and white supremacy in South Africa. The world-wide anti-apartheid movement grew throughout the ’60s ’70s and ’80s in its support for Black South Africans and other minority groups living under this oppressive system. This support was inspired by figures like Nelson Mandela, whose eventual rise from political prisoner to the first Black President of South Africa, turned him into a global icon for freedom and equality.

To find out more about some of the strong connections between the city’s Black community, Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement please visit the display at the Museum of Liverpool’s Our City, Our Stories programme, a partnership programme which enables local people to represent their own interpretation of the museum’s themes and objects. This display was created in partnership with the Mandela8 group. Liverpool 8 Against Apartheid | National Museums Liverpool (

What will the memorial look like?

The designs for the memorial – as depicted on the project signage displayed in the park since July 2020 – are inspired by Mandela’s gardens at Robben Island and Pollsmoor Prison. His gardens were symbols of resistance, tools for resilience, spaces for reflection and platforms for community. The food grown in Mandela’s gardens provided a resource to counter the food inequality linked to racial discrimination in the prison system, which provided less nutritious rations to non-white prisoners, and offered Mandela an opportunity to gain trust with prison guards and wardens. He resourcefully bartered the food he grew for study materials, including the language studies which gave him a voice in the room when it came to prisoner rights, and later, key diplomatic negotiations.

The therapeutic and purposeful act of gardening helped Mandela keep focus, resilience and resolve through nearly three decades of prison. And not only did Mandela’s Garden at Robben Island provide a space for dialogue, political discussion and debates, but it gave cover to hide Mandela’s

original manuscripts while the copies were smuggled off Robben Island. These texts, written collectively by Mandela and his comrades in prison, formed the basis of Long Walk to Freedom, as well as his public speeches and words which have moved the world.

The Princes Park scheme includes a new ‘Freedom Bridge’, pavilion and 32 cylindrical stonework pedestals inscribed with inspirational Mandela quotes, chosen through consultation:

Who designed the Mandela Memorial?

Wayward were commissioned by Mandela8 following an open design commission exercise to develop the Memorial, in consultation with local communities and stakeholders. The commission sought to marry the legacy of Mandela with the heritage of L8 and the grade 2* listed Princes Park designed by Joseph Paxton. The final design has many synergies with Nelson Mandela’s journey:The Memorial will be installed on the island in Princes Park Lake and Nelson Mandela was incarcerated on Robben island for 18 years;The Island was previously connected to the mainland in the Park by a bridge and before the lake improvement in 2020 was often accessible due to low water levels. Nelson Mandela’s life works and struggles were all about building bridges, connecting people and breaking down barriers;The Memorial will be installed in a garden setting and Nelson Mandela established gardens in Pollsmoor prison as it was one of the few things he could control;

The Memorial will be made of limestone and limestone was the stone Nelson Mandela quarried in prison;

How have the community been engaged in its development?

What measures will be put in place to ensure wildlife are protected on the island once the memorial is installed?

Mandela8 have always been open to discussion about the memorial. The memorial will be a place where we expect users to be respectful of the space as a place for cohabitation by wildlife and people. The memorial will be a wonderful space for us to education people about humanity and social justice and peace. It is an outdoor classroom, designed to be used by schoolchildren, so offers significant opportunity to educate young people about the environment and how to protect it and all living things on it.

How has the project been funded?

The memorial has primarily been funded using allocations from planning contributions made by developers (known as section 106 agreements). These contributions are made to improve Liverpool open spaces and allocated by Liverpool City Council to open spaces in the vicinity of contributing developments. In addition Mandela8 have been actively fundraising and have been successful in receiving a Heritage Lottery Grant for their engagement and education programmes and sponsorship and donations from a range of Mandela8 supporters.

What works are being undertaken?

In order to create the final memorial there are a number of activities being undertaken off and on site by specialist contractors. Offsite we have the fabrication of the bridge; the creation of the 32 cylindrical stoneworks; bespoke engraving and the production of the limestone cladding. On site there will be the installation of the foundations; installation of temporary platforms; the siting of the 32 cylinders on the island; installation of the final bridge; stone cladding and paving plus the pathway connections. The entire programme of works is currently estimated at 12 to 14 weeks and takes into account the Mandela week visit to see progress on site and celebrate the commencement of the memorial.

How are you managing construction work in a parks environment?

Throughout the construction the park will be open to the public however there will be a controlled area for the contractors to operate within. This will include the closure of one pedestrian pathway immediately adjacent to the island. There however will remain access for the public through other routes to still complete a full circuit around the lake. The public will not be permitted within the construction area. A similar process was followed for the major improvement works that happened previously, but on a much larger scale.

What about wildlife during the construction?

When working in a park environments contractors have the same controls around creating safe working places and managing impact including waste as they do in any other development. Whilst the installation of the memorial involves several specialist contractors, the construction area will be led by one lead contractor Horticon who will have the overall responsibility for these controls. There are also additional considerations when working in greenspaces. For the installation of the memorial at Princes Park this includes managing works within a heritage park and impact of wildlife. As part of this immediately prior to commencement on site there will be a final full assessment of bird nesting in and around the island given the legal obligation to not disturb nesting birds. This includes establishing a buffer zone around the construction areas and actively monitoring these throughout the works.

What happens when the memorial is complete?

Once construction is complete the memorial becomes park of the public features of the park and is accessible to the public to view and enjoy. Given the aspiration and design of the memorial the intention is that local schools and groups will utilise the space as an outdoor education space. To book this space in the future please search park events at and contact us directly.

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Mandela Family to lead events promoting diversity in the city

“To think that all the way in Liverpool, what my dad stood for in life still resonates with a lot of people today, emphasises that rarely is social and political transformation an individual effort; often it is a result of an accumulation of forces.” Dr Makaziwe Mandela

In celebration of Nelson Mandela International Day, Mandela8,  Liverpool BID Company, Torus Group and The Big Help Project will host the Mandela Family for the official opening of the Nelson Mandela Memorial and a series of events exploring how the city’s business community can become more diverse, and how the qualities Nelson Mandela exemplified can be part of the city’s business culture. The events, marking the tenth anniversary of the death of the visionary leader, will also explore business partnerships between Liverpool and South Africa. 

Nelson Mandela International Day, on Tuesday 18 July 2023, shines a light on the legacy of a man who changed the 20th century and helped to shape the 21st. The day is used as a moment to renew the values that inspired Nelson Mandela, and to examine how his values should inspire us to take action and make a change. 

Mandela8 was established to commemorate the life of Nelson Mandela through the creation of a permanent memorial in Princes Park, Liverpool 8. This summer it will be unveiled to coincide with Mandela Day. 

The events will include;

The official opening of the memorial in Princes Park

An audience with the Mandela Family at Liverpool Everyman Theatre. A public event and panel discussion hosted by Marcus Ryder MBE and including Dr Maki Mandela & Tukwini Mandela. 

A dinner with North West civic and business leaders, hosted by Downtown Liverpool in Business at Hope Street Hotel

Liverpool BID Company will also be supporting businesses to take up the “Mandela Day  campaign, as championed by the Mandela family. Nelson Mandela spent 67 years of his life fighting for social justice and human rights and on Mandela day we ask you to do an act of kindness for someone else or in your community, to support the campaign.  

Dr Makaziwe Mandela

 “The Mandela8 Memorial to my Father Nelson Mandela is a moving and truly inspirational tribute to the sacrifices he and his comrades made to rid South Africa of the violent apartheid system. Being involved in this journey seeing the stones made and installed has been a very emotional experience for myself and my daughter Tukwini.  To think that all the way in Liverpool, what my dad stood for in life still resonates with a lot of people today, emphasises that rarely is social and political transformation an individual effort; often it is a result of an accumulation of forces. We are looking forward to officially opening the memorial.”

Sonia Bassey MBE, Chair Mandela8  

“We are delighted to be with Dr Maki and Tukwini again when they officially open the memorial.  It will be a significant and emotional moment to see the memorial open and being used as an outdoor classroom to educate people and continue to seek harmony, love and peace in the world based on Nelson Mandela’s values that are still relevant today.
We want people from all over the world to visit the memorial and for its educational properties to be realised by people of all ages across Liverpool and beyond.  We are truly grateful to all our partners.”

Bill Addy, CEO of Liverpool BID Company

“We are proud to be welcoming the Mandela family to Liverpool and for them to lead this series of events, in partnership with Mandela8 helping to shape the city for the future. Our business community should reflect the rich diversity of Liverpool and we continue to work and learn to drive that forward”. 

Leader of Liverpool City Council, Cllr Liam Robinson

“Liverpool is immensely proud of our relationship with the Mandela family. It’s a connection that greatly enriches our civic life and helps to promote a wider understanding of the universal themes of social justice – lessons which are as apt today as they’ve ever been. The unveiling of the memorial at Princes Park on Nelson Mandela International Day will be a red letter day for the city and will further cement the bonds we already have and treasure. It’s heartening to see so many people and organisations involved in this event and underlines how much of an inspiration the great man himself continues to be.”

Cath Murray-Howard, Chief Operating Officer for Torus Group

“Torus Group continues its commitment to collaborate with and build upon diverse neighbourhoods and we are thrilled to once again be part of the momentous work being undertaken by Mandela8. As we celebrate the official opening of the Nelson Mandela Memorial, a milestone that Torus is delighted to have supported, we are reminded of the pride taken in championing initiatives that drive community growth.

“Teams across the Group are dedicated to continue the support being delivered through projects that enhance opportunities, and together, see the memorial as a symbol of unity, resilience while working towards a brighter future for all.”

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Work is to start by the end of the year installing a memorial and bridge in a Liverpool park, dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela.

The Princes Park scheme includes a new ‘Freedom Bridge’, pavilion and 32 cylindrical stoneworks inscribed with inspirational Mandela quotes. The pedestals represent the oil drums Mandela used to grow an allotment on the rooftop of Pollsmoor Prison.

The project reflects upon Mandela’s love of gardens and horticulture along with his struggle for freedom, equality and humanity, and the spaces will be used for future activity in the park, acting as a focal point and an area to visit, reflect and educate.

The city council has already restored the surrounding lake including reinstating the water channel, fixing edging stones, putting in fishing platforms and ecological improvements.

His family – eldest daughter Dr Makaziwe ‘Maki’ Mandela and his granddaughter Tukwini Mandela – have confirmed they will be coming to the city for the official opening at Princes Park in July 2020, as part of Mandela Week, on what would have been his 101st birthday.

They were last in the city in February this year when they toured the site and visited a number of community projects and viewed artwork created by Nelson Mandela which is on permanent display at St George’s Hall gifted to the city by his daughter.

Funding for the memorial and bridge has come from a number of sources including planning agreements made with developers (section 106) and UNI Global, a conglomerate of unions representing 20 million workers in the skills and services sectors.

Dr Makaziwe Mandela and Tukwini Mandela (pictured above) said: “We are delighted to be coming back to Liverpool, a city dear to our hearts.

“It will be a special moment indeed when the memorial is opened and so special to us to know that the memorial is Liverpool’s way of continuing to show their love and respect for our Father and Grandfather and ensure his legacy lives on.

“Liverpool’s connection to South Africa and its support of Anti-Apartheid is significant and we look forward to developing a legacy for the future of Liverpool by being there to lead Mandela week.”

Sonia Bassey, Chair and one of the founding members of Mandela8, said: “The last five years for Mandela8 have been the most amazing journey.

“We have worked hard with the communities of Liverpool to realise their dream and are so excited to finally see the memorial installed.

“We were told we had given our communities hope when the Mandela family visited Liverpool last year, so we are humbled that they would want to come back and share this special moment with us and bless the very place that will be fundamental to our ongoing educational work in communities.

“We have exciting plans for Mandela Week next year that will truly make commemorating Mandela’s birthday special.”

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “It is fantastic news that we will be starting work on the Mandela memorial, which will be a lasting tribute to his unrivalled achievements in bringing the evil of apartheid to an end.

“The memorial project has been years in the planning and I know from meeting them last year how touched the family are that this tribute will be taking centre stage in such a beautiful green space.

“It will be a privilege and an honour to once again welcome the Mandela family for what will be a very special occasion when the memorial is completed.”

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