Celebrating anniversary of Mandela’s Glasgow visit with drive for funds for statue

Mara Louw
Marah Louw dancing with Nelson Mandela in George Square (Photo: Alan Wylie)

Twenty-seven years ago on 9 October 1993 Nelson Mandela danced in Glasgow’s George Square and told the Scottish people “You declared us to be free!”

On the anniversary, Scotland can re-live the events of that historic day through an online video re-issued by the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation (NMSMF) as it pushes for the remaining £25k needed to erect a statue of Mr Mandela in Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow.

The video – and details of how to donate to the campaign – will be on the Foundation’s website at www.mandelascottishmemorial.org/9Oct from 12 noon on 9 October 2020 and on its Facebook and Twitter accounts. It covers Mr Mandela’s arrival and speech accepting the freedom of Glasgow and eight other authorities, and parts of his speech to the thousands in a soaking wet George Square where he danced on stage with South African singer Marah Louw.

In his acceptance speech, he famously said: “While we were physically denied our freedom in the country of our birth, a city 6,000 miles away, and as renowned as Glasgow, refused to accept the legitimacy of the apartheid system, and declared us to be free.”

And he ended with: “…we respect, admire, and above all, love you all.”

Scotland was at the centre of the campaign for Mr Mandela’s release from prison. The first ever freedom of a city for Nelson Mandela came from Glasgow. It kick-started 2,500 mayors from 56 different countries eventually signing a declaration to the UN in 1981 demanding his release.

The pure Glasgow gesture of renaming the home of the Glasgow South African Consulate as Nelson Mandela Place in 1986 won worldwide acclaim – and Mr Mandela never forgot it as he told the 15,000 crowd in Glasgow when he visited the city in 1993.

Brian Filling, NMSMF Chair and Honorary Consul for South Africa in Scotland, said: “The pandemic has obviously limited our usual anniversary celebrations but we hope the video, as well as bringing back memories for those who were there at the time, will be an opportunity for everyone to see a historic part of Glasgow and Scotland’s role in the fight against inequality and apartheid.

“We hope our proposed statue of Nelson Mandela, and the related West of Scotland Development Education Centre (WoSDEC) commissioned school resource material which has already been welcomed by many teachers and pupils, will keep inspiring present and future generations to challenge injustice.”