Mandela was my hero. For a significant part of my youth I campaigned – in the way teens do – for a cause I believed in.
I became politicised when I was 12. I spent my teens marching for CND, and with the Anti Nazi League. On Saturdays I was usually either on a march or outside the South African embassy. Mandela was my, and our hero. I spent time in wooden-floored halls listening to men with thick accents in balaclavas.
I wore an Artists Against Apartheid patch on the sleeves of my coats and got terrible stick for it at school, though I didn’t help myself by being vocal about my views. I painted AAM panels on leathers and I wrote to Katherine Hamnett when she designed an AAA T-shirt and wore the one she donated when I did sponsored events proudly.
My focus for my white London teens was the Anti-Apartheid Movement, and Mandela a beacon for justice, humanity and tolerance in a Thatcher-riven, suss-driven south London youth with black friends when mixing was pretty unusual.
Last night I found myself listening to a programme on the radio about the Hindu concept of renewal, when it was interrupted with the the long-expected news. And I cried, there at the lights, in my car. Nelson Mandela, humanity personified: thank you.