Scotland has marked Mandela Day for the first time, as the First Minister joined the South African High Commissioner in Glasgow to thank volunteers packing books.
Around forty volunteers at the city’s Hillhead Library have today filled a lorry with some 50,000 books to go to schoolchildren in the Eastern Cape of South Africa – all part of the international celebrations marking Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday.
Alex Salmond paid tribute to South Africa’s former president while in Glasgow – the first place anywhere in the world to give Nelson Mandela the freedom of the city – by urging Scots to spend at least 67 minutes serving their communities, in honour of the 67 years of service given by Mr Mandela.
The First Minister said:
“Nelson Mandela is today perhaps the most respected elder statesman in the world. I can think of no more fitting place to mark his legacy than in the great city of Glasgow – the first place anywhere to award him the freedom of the city.
“On this, Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday, it is up to all of us to honour his legacy by doing something to make the world a better place, starting with our own communities.
“Nelson Mandela fought against apartheid and dedicated himself to civil rights for 67 years of public life. I am encouraging Scots to spend 67 minutes doing good work in their own communities and am looking forward to working for an afternoon as a guide at Strichen community park.
“The volunteers packing books at Hillhead Library embody these Mandela Day values and I’m delighted to support them as we strengthen ties with the people of the Eastern Cape of South Africa.”
Brian Filling, Chair of ACTSA Scotland and Honorary Consul for South Africa, said:
“ACTSA Scotland is pleased to be associated with the worldwide activities on Mandela Day. It is fitting that on this day in Glasgow, the first city to award freedom to Nelson Mandela, volunteers will pack books into a container and send it off to South Africa.
“The 50,000 books will go to libraries in the Eastern Cape, where they are much needed following decades of colonialism and apartheid. ACTSA Scotland, in association with Community HEART, has sent almost 3 million books to South Africa since the end of apartheid.
“ACTSA Scotland and the South African High Commission welcome the support of the First Minister, the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and the many volunteers for the Mandela Day activities, which are designed to make the world a better place for all. ACTSA Scotland hopes to make this an annual event.”
Last month Archbishop Desmond Tutu sent a video message to the people of Scotland welcoming plans to mark Mandela Day and he said he was delighted that First Minister Alex Salmond, the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland were marking the day.