The day Nelson Mandela graced Canary Wharf

By Rob Virtue on December 6, 2013 10:31 AM |


As the world mourns the loss of Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday at the age of 95, we look at his visit to Canary Wharf, 13 years ago.

Mr Mandela was at Cabot Hall - now Boisdale Canary Wharf - giving a speech at a meeting for the Final Report of World Commission on Dams, which discussed the protection of waterways.

Photojournalist Diane Davey was there that day, November 16, 2000, and will never forget the great statesman's visit.

"He was here for an international water conference in Cabot Hall and I was honoured to meet him and take photographs of him," said Diane, who worked at Trinity Mirror.

"There was no flash photography though due to his very sensitive eyes from his years of incarceration.

"Although quite frail even back then, he had such an aura and presence as soon as he walked in the room and yet was so humble and interested in everyone he was introduced to.

"When anyone ever asks me 'who is the most famous person you've photographed?', my answer has always been Nelson Mandela!"


It was reported Mr Mandela told the audience that day: "I, for one, am no expert. I have no degree in civil engineering. I am not an environmental scientist. I do not shape or analyse water policy. Nor do I follow the global economic or financing trends in large-scale infrastructure projects.

"During my life, and legal career, I devoted almost no time or attention to impacts of large dams. And Robben Island had no rivers. No music of fresh waters lulled us off to sleep.

"Yet upon reading this Report I know exactly what is at stake, why it speaks so deeply to me, and how it can help all of us resolve potentially explosive tensions together."

Do you have memories of Mr Mandela's visit to Canary Wharf that day? Or do you know if he visited east London at another time? Share your memories in the comment box below.

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