Nelson Mandela's connection to Glasgow

  • Glasgow was the first city in the world to honour Nelson Mandela with the Freedom of the City, in 1981, nine years before he was released from prison.
  • In a bold move to send a message to the then apartheid regime, the council also renamed St George's Place as Nelson Mandela Place in 1986.  This was seen as highly significant as this then became the address of the South African Consulate, which was based there.
  • In October 1993, two years after his release from prison, Mandela came to Glasgow, where he was described by the then council leader Jean McFadden as "a symbol of the fight for equality and freedom across the world".
  • The event famously saw Mandela dancing on stage in George Square, to the delight of the crowd of 10,000 people who had come to see him.
  • A plaque commemorating the 30th anniversary of Glasgow awarding Mandela the Freedom of the City was unveiled by Denis Goldberg in 2011, a fellow defendant at the now infamous Rivonia trial.
  • The plaque is engraved with words Mandela spoke from the dock during that trial on 20 April 1964. "I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

Below are some photos of Nelson Mandela's visit to Glasgow in 1993.  He was given Freedom of the City in 1981, read his pdf icon Freedom of the City speech [360kb]

Image of Nelson Mandela - City Chambers Nelson Mandela and Bob Innes
Nelson Mandela on George Square Nelson Mandela on stage George Square
Nelson addressing crowd on George Square The then Council Leader Jean McFadden with Nelson Mandela in 1993

The following images have been reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group

Nelson and Mara Louw Nelson Mandela on stage - Concert hall
Image of Nelson Mandela