A day to remember

David Kenvyn tells us his memories of the day Nelson Mandela came to Glasgow.

I had not intended to be in Glasgow for Nelson Mandela’s visit on 9th October 1993.   After work, I had gone to the ANC Office to assist with the visit’s preparations.   I was wearing a suit.   At 10.00pm the speech to be delivered the next day in Glasgow was faxed through to the office.  The three of us there looked at it.   We could not fax it through to the hotel because that would be illegible.  It was decided that someone had to catch the night train and get the speech to the hotel.   As I was wearing a suit, it was decided that I was going to Glasgow.

I caught the night train and told the concierge that I wanted to be woken up as soon as the train arrived in Glasgow.   This was done.  I ate breakfast and then washed, shaved and dressed.  I ran to the taxi and said to the taxi driver “Hilton Hotel, please”.   He replied “That is where Nelson Mandela is staying”.  I replied “I know.  I have his speech in my bag”, showing it to him in case he did not believe me.

We got to the hotel and I asked “How much please?”.  The taxi driver replied “I am nae takin’ money frae a friend o’ Nelson Mandela”.

This is why I am so proud of what is now my city.   It is why Nelson Mandela thanked “a city 5,000 miles away and as renowned as Glasgow” for remembering him when he was still in prison.

It is why we need a statue of him in Glasgow so that future generations never forget our link to him and the role of our city in the campaign to destroy apartheid.   We have a right to be very proud.

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