When Mr Mandela Came Town is a new children’s book that honours Nelson Mandela’s historic visit to Brixton following his election as South Africa’s president 25 years ago.

When Mr Mandela Came To Town
When Mr Mandela Came Town: written by Kemi Bamgbose and illustrated by Nada Helmy

Six years after his release from a 27-year prison term for campaigning against Apartheid, Nelson Mandela, the newly elected President of South Africa visited Brixton in 1996. A young Kemi Bamgbose was there, and the event made such an impact on her younger self, that 25 years later, she has written When Mr Mandela Came Town a reimagined fictional account of the visit.

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Speaking about her recollections of the momentous occasion in the summer of July 1996, Kemi Bamgbose, said:

“I remember my Mum and Dad saying we could take the day off school to go and see Mr Mandela in Brixton – which you will never hear from African parents!

Yet, they knew how monumental the occasion would be and didn’t want us to miss out despite being so young – I was 11 at the time. I specifically remember my dad saying, ‘this experience will be better than any book you will ever read’ And it couldn’t be truer!”

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In a time when we need to tell the stories of our most celebrated heroes, the release of When Mr Mandela Came Town comes is well-timed. When asked why she decided to write the book now, so long after the event, the author said:

“I wrote the book because I wanted children today to know about this important piece of modern Black British history. It is my story, with a lot of creative license, but I hope that it will inspire others and perhaps encourage parents to allow their children to experience enriching life moments should the occasion arise – because it can have a positive lifelong impact.”

Aimed at children aged 6-7 years and upwards, alongside the creative retelling of the author’s experience, the book comprises a comprehension quiz, creative activities and a glossary to aid children’s learning, making it a great resource for schools.


Read a snippet of the book below… 

When Mr Mandela Came to Town

Tinu Dos Santos thinks watching the News is utterly boring and depressing. 

 Yet every single day she must watch the news along with her siblings because her parents insists it is ‘good for them’. 

One day a news story pops up that peaks her curiosity – Mr Nelson Mandela, the newly elected President of South Africa, is coming to town!

Her parents are so excited at this prospect that Tinu is allowed to take the day off school to join the crowds as they welcome Mr. Mandela on this historic trip to Brixton.

With thousands of people lining the streets, a strong police presence and the nation’s media watching, what happens next astounds everyone and Tinu and her family are at the heart of it!


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When Mr Mandela Came to Town, written by Kemi Bamgbose and illustrated by Nada Helmy is now available as an e-book and in print.

Buy the book here.

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