Corner of Muswell Hill becomes memorial to exiled ANC leader

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Oliver Tambo, the exiled leader of the African National Congress, has been commemorated with a sculpture and bust unveiled yesterday in the London park where his children used to play.

Mr Tambo, who fled to the UK from South Africa in 1960 to run the ANC abroad, was praised yesterday by Nelson Mandela as the anti-apartheid icon's "closest friend and comrade for over five decades".

A bust of Mr Tambo by the late Ian Walters, who also sculpted the Mandela statute in Parliament Square, is now the centrepiece of a memorial in the Albert Road recreation ground on Muswell Hill, in Haringey. A plaque has also gone up on the house in nearby Alexandra Park Road, where the Tambos lived for 30 years.

Mr Tambo returned to South Africa after the collapse of apartheid, but died there in 1993. Last night there was a concert at the South Africa High Commission in London to mark what would have been his 90th birthday this month.

Gordon Brown joined yesterday's tributes to Mr Tambo, saying that he "inspired millions of people across the world". Senior South African government figures were in the UK for yesterday's ceremony. The Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, represented the British Government.

In a message to the organisers, Nelson Mandela said: "Oliver was not only my closest friend and comrade... but was above all a resolute leader of our people.

"It is especially appropriate that this memorial is in Haringey as it was this community which welcomed into its midst during their time in exile, not only Oliver, Adelaide and the Tambo children, but many other who are today remembered as equally heroic veterans of our struggle."