Campaign launched to build statue of Nelson Mandela in Glasgow city centre

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Aaron Gray
Writer

A public fundraising campaign was launched in October 2017 to build a statue of late South African president and revolutionary Nelson Mandela on Glasgow’s Nelson Mandela Place.

The campaign aims to raise £250,000 for the statute to be built.

The campaign is led by the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation (NMSMF). They hope to shine a light on Glasgow’s stalwart anti-apartheid history. This monument will not be Glasgow’s first tribute to Mandela – in 1981 Glasgow boldly offered the then-labelled “terrorist” the freedom of the city, despite the UK government’s reluctance to impose sanctions on South Africa and condemn Mandela’s imprisonment. The city also renamed St George’s Place in its city centre, where the South African Embassy was situated at that time, “Nelson Mandela Place” in 1986 as an attempt to embarrass the South African government for its continued imprisonment of Mandela. The gesture prompted Mandela to visit Glasgow in 1993 when he was South Africa’s president to thank the people of the city.

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

Despite the end of apartheid and the passing of Mandela, anti-apartheid activist Brian Filling, now president of the NMSMF, still looks to deepen ties of Scotland and South Africa. He said that he hopes people would “respond generously to honour one of the world’s greatest leaders”.

Former football manager Sir Alex Ferguson, a patron of the NMSMF, has backed the campaign. He spoke at the official launch of the campaign, saying: “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.”

Ferguson also commented that he believed that Glasgow would be a good home for a statue of Mandela as a result of both the city’s contributions to the anti-apartheid movement, and the fact that he believes that Glasgow “understands struggle”.