A final call has been made for donations to a statue of Nelson Mandela planned for Glasgow, in line with the 30th anniversary of his visit to Scotland.
The Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation (NMSMF) has so far raised £130,000 for the £150,000 statue, and has now launched a Crowdfunder appeal to make up the remaining amount.
The Scotland’s Mandela Statue – Make It Happen campaign will run during Black History Month in October, in hopes of raising the remaining £20,000.
A large granite block has been sourced from South Africa, and will be finished in Aberdeenshire to create the plinth for the statue to be sited at Glasgow’s Nelson Mandela Place.
Planning permission has been received and trial trenches will be dug during October to check for any underground services not discovered by earlier radar surveys.
When the remaining money is raised, a competition for the sculpture will be launched.
The contest will involve sculptors developing their ideas, the selection of a shortlist, and a public consultation to help choose the final design.
The winner will then turn that design into solid form, cast in bronze, to be mounted on the plinth in its permanent home.
Mandela’s history with Scotland
Glasgow was the first city in the UK to grant Mandela the Freedom of the City in 1981 while he was still incarcerated on Robben Island.
Following the initiative, eight other UK local authorities followed in awarding him the honour prior to his release from an apartheid prison after 27 years.
All came to Glasgow on October 9, 1993, to present Nelson Mandela with their Freedoms at a special ceremony in the City Chambers.
Afterwards, Mandela addressed a crowd of some 15,000 in George Square, with the now famous words: “While we were physically denied our freedom, a city 6,000 miles away, and as renowned as Glasgow, refused to accept the legitimacy of the apartheid system.”
Marah Louw, South African singer and actor, who danced with Nelson Mandela in George Square in Glasgow and is a patron of NMSMF, wrote: “When I was a young girl, living in Soweto, never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would meet Nelson Mandela.
“But in 1990, when Madiba came out of prison there was a concert at Wembley Stadium with artists from around the world performing to welcome Madiba and I was asked to perform. I thought I was dreaming.
“I travelled to London and performed in front of Nelson Mandela and the more than 80 thousand people packed into Wembley Stadium. A highlight for me was when he came backstage after my performance to greet me.
“My unforgettable highlight of all highlights, was in 1993, when Brian Filling invited me to come to Scotland and perform at the prestigious event where Nelson Mandela received the Freedom of Britain, in George Square, in Glasgow.
“I was pinching myself and sincerely humbled and overwhelmed for another opportunity, to meet Tata Madiba, my President.”
Endorsements and pledges of support
“A permanent memorial to Nelson Mandela in Scotland will remind Scots and visitors of the proud history of solidarity with the struggle against apartheid,” said Brian Filling, chair of the NMSMF, “and will also educate future generations on the need to stand up against racism and injustice whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.”
He continued: “That history of solidarity saw huge support from Scotland and its anti-apartheid movement with practical help, boycotts, campaigning, a year-long picket of the South African Consulate, the renaming of the consulate’s address as Nelson Mandela Place, and the 30,000 strong Freedom March from Glasgow Green to London”.
“We are within sight of creating the statue thanks to the support of many individuals and organisations and with this final push we will make it a reality”.
The Crowdfunder has received many endorsements and pledges of support.
Lord Provost of Glasgow, councillor Jacqueline McLaren, said, “It is a great pleasure to support the Scottish Nelson Mandela Memorial campaign.
“Glasgow holds Mr Mandela’s memory close to its heart and it is only fitting that his historic achievements and great personal sacrifices are honoured by the erection of a statue in the city to remind future generations of his struggle to topple apartheid in South Africa.”
She added: “And even after his sad death in 2013, the city’s links with his family live on. Indeed, it was an honour for Glasgow to welcome his grand-daughter, Tukwini, to his birthday celebrations here during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.”
Lord Paul Boateng, the UK’s first black cabinet minister and a former high commissioner to South Africa, said: “Statues are more than just pieces of stone they symbolise relationships worthy of memory and respect.
“The relationship between the peoples of Scotland and of Africa was critical in overcoming the monumental evil of racism through Scotland’s support for the work of the Anti-Apartheid Movement.”