PROUD2BE is the theme of Croydon’s Black History month which features author Kemi Bamgbose who will be in Thornton Heath to share the inspiration behind her children’s book: When Mr Mandela Came To Town.

Aged 11, Kemi took the day off school to see the newly elected, President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, on his historic trip to Brixton joining with thousands of others for this momentous occasion, in July 1996.

Kemi’s book partly based on her experiences aims to educate and inspire children about modern Black British history. 

Croydon Libraries will host a programme of activities starting with Semi’s event for children aged seven upwards at Thornton Heath Library on Saturday (Oct 9) at 11am.

Kemi 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!’”

Croydon’s Black History month was launched party at a Business Xchange Hub last Friday (Oct 1) which saw musical performances, dance, and DJs. Hosted by speaker, writer and podcaster Debra Chosen, and featured music from DJ Sound Supreme, Afrobeats performer Silvastone, and Norbury Manor Girls choir.

Organised by Croydon BME Forum in partnership with Croydon Council the month long programme honours the borough’s black communities’ achievements, contributions, heritage and culture. 

The huge range of events includes an intergenerational fashion show, poetry readings, live music, theatre, inspirational speakers, a networking brunch and thought-provoking discussions, there is something to appeal to all ages and interests.

Andrew Brown, Chief Executive of the Croydon BME Forum said: “Our theme this year Proud2be was chosen as we wanted to celebrate all the things that we are proud of. Proud be Black, proud to be a woman, proud to live in Croydon. Whatever you are proud of we want you to celebrate with us this year during Black History Month.”

The Museum of Croydon has also produced a learning pack for children, which includes information on singer Stormzy and Sislin Fay Allen, Britain’s first black female police officer, who both lived in Thornton Heath (

To book tickets for Kemi’s reading ring the library on: 020 7884 5185 or email