The River Thames outside DLD College London

Annual Sir John Ritblat Lecture

12th February 21

Yesterday, 11 February 2021, was 31 years to the day after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison on Robben Island and DLD College London was hugely privileged to welcome back friend of the college and Mandela’s former bodyguard, the activist and inspirational speaker Chris Lubbe, to once again share his story with the DLD community for this year’s Sir John Ritblat Lecture.

Introduced by DLD’s Inclusion and Diversity Ambassador, our Head of BTEC Fumi St Marthe, over the course of an hour and a half Chris shared the story of growing up in apartheid South Africa, experiencing the inequality, injustice and violence that the policy of segregation held for black and multiracial people. He then spoke of his work as a political organiser and the cost of that work at the hands of the government and the police, and the difficult journey of change, recognition and forgiveness that started once the policy was dismantled.

His story was at times a shocking and challenging, but ultimately an inspirational one.

Following the last twelve months, that began with widespread anger and protest at structural racial inequality highlighted the by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and saw COVID-19 isolate our community and people across the world, Chris’ message of coming together, of Ubuntu, and of the vital importance of education in its ability to create real and positive change was a timely one that spoke loudly to our school community.

The talk was followed up with an insightful question and answer session that left us all with the reminder that it is in our hands to create a world without racism.

The afternoon concluded with thanks from the students, delivered on their behalf by Student Council Diversity and Inclusion Lead Benita, and thanks from the Principal for this special talk from an inspirational man who has, as he put it, ‘DLD in his DNA’.

Mark Johnson, Head of Wellbeing