Lilliesleaf celebrates ties with Mandela

Nic Wolpe at Currie Memorial Hall last week. By Callum Hay.
Nic Wolpe at Currie Memorial Hall last week. By Callum Hay.
0
Have your say

Lilliesleaf residents celebrated the village’s ties with former South African president Nelson Mandela last week.

Around 70 residents and guests turned out at the village’s Currie Memorial Hall for a tea party to welcome Nic Wolpe, chief executive of an anti-apartheid museum in South Africa at a farm called Liliesleaf.

Nic Wolpe received a painting entitled Village by well-known Lilliesleaf artist Rob Hain. By Callum Hay.

Nic Wolpe received a painting entitled Village by well-known Lilliesleaf artist Rob Hain. By Callum Hay.

The event was organised by Lilliesleaf, Askirk and Midlem Community Council and included music performances by members of Midlem-based Bedlam Ceilidh Band. A range of homebakes were supplied by nearby gallery and coffee shop, the Jammy Coo.

It is understood that Liliesleaf farm, in northern Johannesburgh, was named after the Borders village and was once home to the former South African president.

Nic, 54, delivered a talk about the history of South Africa’s Liliesleaf, which was used as headquarters for the underground Communist Party during the apartheid.

The farm was bought in 1961 by Nic’s father, Harold Wolpe, who was a lawyer and anti-apartheid activist.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Nic told the gathering that Liliesleaf was purchased as a result of a mass killing by the apartheid government in 1960.

He said that in 1963 police raided the farm and 18 people were arrested. However, his father, Harold, managed to escape and moved to England where he lived in exile for around 30 years. During that raid police stumbled across diaries and papers written by Mandela.

He said: “In South Africa today, Liliesleaf is seen as one of the most important and critical historical sites in the country and is seen as an essential fixture on our landscape.”

John Dent, a retired archaeologist for Scottish Borders Council who lives in Lilliesleaf, also spoke of the Borders village.

Carolyn Riddell-Carre, chairwoman of the community council, said the turn out was more than anticipated, telling the Wee Paper: “It was a most interesting couple of talks.”

She added: “It helped us to have some understanding about the terrible struggles people had had in South Africa and we also learnt about the history of our Lilliesleaf.”