Sheffield has long prided itself on its support for Nelson Mandela, who died last week, though it also provoked scepticism.
In 1981 the city council under David Blunkett sent a symbolic invitation for him to visit Sheffield while still imprisoned and city leaders joined forces to petition for his release in 1983. The year before Sheffield City Polytechnic students union had re-named the Phoenix building the Nelson Mandela Building and it remained so under Hallam University until it closed in 2004 and was replaced by The HUBS. In 1988 the main function room at the Town Hall became the Mandela Room, a move considered “stupid” by Tory leader David Heslop. In 1993, the year before he became South Africa’s president, he was granted the Freedom of Sheffield and eight other cities.