30 AUGUST 2007

London's Parliament Square was filled with the sound of cheering and applause on Wednesday as former South African president Nelson Mandela attended the unveiling of a nine-foot bronze statue of himself. Helped onto the stage by new British prime minister Gordon Brown, the charismatic 89-year-old was then greeted with rapturous cries of "Mandela, we love you!" from the assembled crowd.

As key figures from London mayor Ken Livingston to supermodel Naomi Campbell watched the momentous occasion, Mr Brown paid tribute to the anti-apartheid hero. "Nelson Mandela is one of the most courageous and best-loved men of all time," he said. "You will be here with us always," he told the elder statesman.

Mr Mandela - who was accompanied to the ceremony by his wife Graca Machel - told the gathering that when he and fellow ANC leader Oliver Tamano visited London in the Seventies they dreamed of a statue of a black leader one day being erected in Parliament Square. Three decades on, that dream has become reality.

Photo: ©
Helped onto the podium by British premier Gordon Brown, the elder statesman was greeted by enthusiastic cries of "Mandela we love you!" from the assembled crowdPhoto: © PA
Photo: ©
Among those witnessing the occasion was Naomi Campbell, who affectionately refers to the Nobel Peace prize winner as her "honorary grandfather" Photo: © PA