Amsterdam's Bijlmerpark to be renamed for Mandela

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The City of Amsterdam has been given approval to change the name of the Bijlmerpark in the Zuidoost district to Nelson Mandelapark. Following a proposal by the City Council to honor Nelson Mandela and emphasize his connection with Amsterdam, Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan and the city's aldermen endorsed plans to rename the park. The full City Council will make a final decision regarding these plans in October. Earlier this year residents of Amsterdam were invited to vote online for which one of five locations they would like to rename. With 37.3 percent of the votes Bijlmerpark was the most popular. An independent survey done by the City of Amsterdam also showed Bijlmerpark as the most popular option. Former South African President and anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela passed away on December 5th, 2013 at the age of 95. As the leader of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela spent most of his young adulthood fighting against apartheid - the official system of racial segregation in South Africa. He was arrested in 1963 and spent 27 years in prison before finally being released in 1990. In 1994 Nelson Mandela was elected as South Africa's first black president in their first democratic election.

Amsterdam had a very special relationship with Nelson Mandela. Protests against the apartheid system happened frequently in the city during the 1980's. Amsterdam accommodated the ANC headquarters in 1989. Nelson Mandela visited Amsterdam five times following his release from prison. In 1999 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the City of Amsterdam. City of Amsterdam stated in the press release that in light of Nelson Mandela's status and his close connection with Amsterdam, the unveiling of the new name will be suitably honour. The date of these celebrations will be announced in due course.