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INSIDE TRACK: Glasgow 2014 will be a celebration of more than sport

'Viva Mandela" was the cry on Friday night as the people of Glasgow turned out for a vigil in Nelson Mandela Place to honour the great man.

Anyone who was there that cold, sleety evening will long remember its emotional atmosphere. It was Glasgow at its best.

Glancing around the crowd it gave me great pleasure to see many of my old fellow activists and comrades from the Scottish Anti-Apartheid movement.

It took me back to those days at the height of our campaigning when we would gather in what was then called St George's Place every Friday lunchtime to picket the South African apartheid regime's consulate in the city. Speaking at Friday's event was Brian Filling, one of the founders of the Scottish Anti-Apartheid movement and the prime mover in bringing Mandela to Glasgow.

Not that long ago, Brian, an old friend, told me it was his firm belief Scotland's active role in the fight against apartheid was one of the significant factors in Glasgow's winning bid to host the Commonwealth Games next year. Today, in his role as Honorary Consul for South Africa in Scotland, Mr Filling is convinced that honouring Mandela by making him a freeman of the city all those years earlier, influenced African nations within the Commonwealth that Glasgow was a deserving host.

That special relationship with those African nations looks set to be endorsed on July 18 next year when the Commonwealth Games cultural programme is set to coincide with Nelson Mandela International Day. Citizens and visitors to the city will be offered a musical event at the Royal Concert Hall as part of the commemorative day devoted to remembering Mandela.

Once into the Commonwealth Games cultural programme it is hoped too that Glasgow will have its own Ekhaya Village.

In what has become a tradition when major sporting events take place outside South Africa's borders, the erection of an Ekhaya Village - a traditional gathering place - provides a marvellous venue that features African music, art, literature, food and hospitality. At the World Cup in South Africa the Ekhaya Village was one of the fringe highlights, as it was at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and the London Olympics.

For South Africans and others from the vast African continent, the Ekhaya will provide a home from home. For other foreign visitors, Glaswegians and Scots as a whole it will be sure to make for a lively meeting place where those already powerful links between Scotland and South Africa so manifest in the wake of Mandela's death, will again be celebrated and reinforced.

This week, as Nelson Mandela is laid to rest, Scotland looks back with pride at the role it played in helping Madiba and his comrades in the battle against the apartheid regime's racism.

Madiba, Mandela's traditional Xhosa clan name, is often used as a term of endearment, respect and admiration. That Nelson Mandela was worthy of such plaudits is a given. Here's to the opportunity for Scotland and Glasgow as host of next year's Commonwealth Games to measure up in the same way.

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