Sir Alex Ferguson CBE today praised Nelson Mandela as a special man who was an example for the world to follow.
Sir Alex, former Manchester United FC Manager and Freeman of the City of Glasgow is a Patron of the newly formed Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation (NMSMF).
Sir Alex was speaking at the launch of the NMSMF’s fund raising campaign to honour the late Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918-2013).
The NMSMF’s major early objective is to raise the funds – by public donation – to erect a statue of Mandela in Glasgow – the first city in the world to award him the Freedom of the
City – and to do so in the Glasgow street that bears his name, Nelson Mandela Place.
Speaking at the NMSMF’s Press Conference in Glasgow City Chambers, Sir Alex – who met Nelson Mandela on three occasions, one of these at Mandela’s home on his 88th birthday – said, “The remarkable thing about Nelson Mandela was his complete lack of bitterness at being imprisoned for 27 years.
“You have to be special to put to one side what he endured and suffered for over a quarter of a century and then go on to lead his country to democracy and influence his people in such a massive way. Nelson Mandela was special. An example for the world to follow.”
Sir Alex also praised the people of Glasgow, “For decades the ordinary people of Glasgow have played a terrific role in the anti-apartheid movement and as a Freeman of this great city I am proud to play my part in this campaign to honour a very special man.”
Also speaking at the Press Conference was Lord Provost of Glasgow and NMSMF Patron, Cllr Eva Bolander. She said, “It was 24 years ago today – on the 9th of October 1993 – the late, great Nelson Mandela came to Glasgow to receive his award of Freeman of the City of Glasgow and of eight other cities and boroughs across the United Kingdom.
“I’m proud to say, Glasgow was the first city in the world to award him this honour. It took that decision in 1981 while Mandela was still imprisoned by a racist apartheid regime.
“And Glasgow has continued to play a prominent and steadfast role in the struggle to see Mandela, and others, released; and to end apartheid. Apartheid ended in 1994 with South Africa’s historic and memorable first free and democratic elections that led to a huge African National Congress victory and Mandela being made the first President of a free and democratic South Africa.
“I’m delighted to welcome the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation to the city and lend my support to its aims to erect a statue and increase knowledge and understanding of Mandela and his iconic place in history. His vision and tireless campaigning helped secure his countrymen and women’s freedom and human rights.”
The Lord Provost and Sir Alex were joined by NMSMF Chair and Honorary Consul for South Africa in Scotland, Mr Brian Filling who organised Mandela’s visit to Scotland in 1993 and was a guest at his Inauguration as President of the Republic of South Africa in 1994.
Mr Filling added, “Nelson Mandela’s death on 5 December 2013 led millions of people around the world to mourn his death and celebrate his life. This spontaneous desire to mourn the death and celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela was also deeply felt and expressed by the people of Glasgow and Scotland when many hundreds of people crammed into Nelson Mandela Place on that cold December night just like they did when the street was re-named in 1986 and when Mandela was released from prison in 1990.
“The idea of creating a permanent and public memorial – a statue in Nelson Mandela Place – grew out of that spontaneous and moving tribute. In our opinion Nelson Mandela Place is historically, politically and functionally the ideal location to site a statue of Mandela.
“The Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation was incorporated in December last year. We hope, with this official launch of our fund raising campaign, the people of Glasgow, Scotland, the UK and the world will respond generously to honour one of the world’s greatest leaders.”