By Duncan Harley.
Mandela was awarded the freedom of the city of Glasgow. My sons met him outside Glasgow City Chambers, just after the ceremony but were then too young to recall the smiling eyes of the man and the air of peace and gentle power he generated.
Before his presidency, Mandela was of course an anti-apartheid activist and high ranking leader of the African National Congress and its armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe, translated “Spear of the Nation.”
Following his 27 years or so in prison on convictions for various crimes including sabotage but not murder, Nelsons switch to a policy of reconciliation and negotiation led the transition to multi-racial democracy in South Africa.
Since the end of apartheid, he has been widely praised, even by former opponents.
In a speech at the City Chambers in Glasgow on 9 October 1993, 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.”
Thank you Nelson.
You changed the world.
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