30th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison: Campaign patrons back £30k drive to achieve people’s statue in Glasgow

Patrons (clockwise from top left) High Commissioner Nomatemba Tambo, Lord Provost Philip Braat, Sir Alex Ferguson, Professor Denis Goldberg.

On 11 February 2020, the 30th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release after 27 years in prison, notable patrons of the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation (NMSMF) are backing its push for the final £30,000 needed to build a statue of Nelson Mandela in Glasgow.

Campaign patrons Denis Goldberg, who stood trial with Mandela in 1964 and spent 22 years in prison; football legend Sir Alex Ferguson; Glasgow Lord Provost Philip Braat; and South African High Commissioner Nomatemba Tambo have all added their voices to the appeal.

With £70,000 already raised, the campaign – which wants to see a ‘people’s statue’ funded and ‘owned’ by the community – is now looking to crowd-fund the balance of £30,000 in the five months from 11 February to United Nations Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July 2020 to make the statue in Nelson Mandela Place Glasgow a reality.

Brian Filling, chair of the NMSMF and Honorary Consul for South Africa in Scotland, said: “Fund-raising so far has included major events but also individual donations and initiatives like kilt walks and birthday and retirement donations. We have made major strides in setting up an education programme for schools and with this new five-month drive, we will be within shouting distance of at last making the statue a reality.”

Denis Goldberg said: “As a fellow Rivonia trialist sentenced to life imprisonment along with Nelson it was a wonderful feeling when he was finally released on 11 February 1990 and joined us in bringing an end to apartheid.

“I have very fond memories of Glasgow and its people from my many visits to Scotland following my release after 22 years in prison. The city’s support for our just cause will never be forgotten by us South Africans. As a Patron of the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation I am encouraged by the educational work being done and its aim to create a permanent memorial to Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid struggle.

“I would also like to thank all of those in Britain who have supported my Foundation’s project to build an arts and culture centre, ‘House of Hope’, in Hout Bay, near Cape town, where I live. The House of Hope will bring together young people from different races and backgrounds and assist in overcoming the legacy of apartheid.”

Sir Alex Ferguson, who met Mr Mandela on three occasions, said: “Nelson Mandela was special. An example for the world to follow. 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.”

Lord Provost Philip Braat said: “It is a matter of great pride that Glasgow awarded Mr Mandela the Freedom of the City in 1981 while he was in prison – the first city in the world to do so.

“We know the importance of that because on his visit to Glasgow in 1993 Mr Mandela 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.’

“I am delighted to support the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation in its drive to build a statue in Glasgow and associated education project to ensure the legacy of Nelson Mandela and this city’s historic role in the campaign against apartheid is never forgotten.”

Nomatemba Tambo said: “On this important anniversary as a patron of the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation I am pleased to support the Foundation’s ambition to create a statue of Nelson Mandela and to educate future generations about apartheid and its crime against humanity.

“Glasgow has a special place in anti-apartheid history as the first city in the world to grant its freedom to Nelson Mandela. I have a special affection for Glasgow as the city hosted my father, O.R. Tambo, when he sent off the Freedom March to London from Glasgow Green in 1988 calling for the release of Mandela.

“Since I became High Commissioner to the UK I have visited Glasgow on many occasions which augurs well for the continuing good relations between our countries”

Brian Filling was instrumental in bringing Nelson Mandela to Glasgow in 1993 to accept the freedom of Glasgow and eight other authorities. He also addressed the hundreds who gathered in Nelson Mandela Place on 11 February 1990 to celebrate Mandela’s release. So big was the crowd that the police had to close the street.

He said: “While Mr Mandela was in prison, many ordinary people in Scotland organised and acted to make sure the world would know about him and the fight against Apartheid.

“That’s why we want today’s generation to join us in raising the funds to make this statue one that they can see as theirs – a ‘people’s statue’ that they can call their own and to remind future generations of the key part Scotland played in taking action for human rights and challenging racism, and on taking action for a better world.

Donations to the campaign can be made online at https://mandelascottishmemorial.org/donate


Information for editors:

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.

Denis Goldberg was one of those sentenced in 1964 alongside Nelson Mandela for their part in the struggle against apartheid. On his release 22 years later, he continued to work to overcome the apartheid regime. He has spent a lifetime campaigning for justice and his latest project is the Denis Goldberg House of Hope arts and culture education centre where he lives in Hout Bay in South Africa.

Sir Alex Ferguson CBE was given the Freedom of the City of Glasgow in 1999. The Govan born footballer famously managed Aberdeen from 1978 to 1986 and Manchester United from 1986 to 2013. As manager of Aberdeen, Sir Alex guided the side to Scottish league victory for the first time in 25 years and followed up as champions in 1984 and 1985. They won the Scottish Cup in 1982 and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1983. Under Sir Alex, Manchester United won 38 trophies, including 13 league titles and two UEFA Champions League titles in 16 years.

Lord Provost Philip Braat took up post in January 2020. He served as Depute Lord Provost from 2017 and represents ward 10 Anderston/City/Yorkhill. He has held a series of senior positions since his election to Glasgow City Council in 2007, including: City Treasurer and Convener of Strathclyde Pension Fund and Convener of the former Strathclyde Police Authority. He is also an Honorary Officer in the Royal Naval Reserve.

Nomatemba “Thembi” Tambo is the South African High Commissioner. She is the daughter of legendary anti-apartheid politician Oliver Reginald Tambo. She has previously served as the South African ambassador in Rome. She has also served as the head of the Tambo Foundation. She is also the Co-Founder of the South African Women’s Chamber of Commerce as well as a member of the International Women’s Forum.

Other patrons of NMSMF include ‘Freemen’ of Glasgow, Sir Billy Connolly, Sir Kenny Dalglish and Lord Macfarlane of Bearsden. The other surviving Rivonia trialist Andrew Mlangeni is also a patron.

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