It was the first place to offer Nelson Mandela freedom of the city, paving the way for 2500 mayors from 56 countries to sign a declaration to the UN in 1981 demanding his release.

And 35 years ago today St George’s Place was renamed Nelson Mandela Place while Mr Mandela was still imprisoned. It was seven years later that the man himself arrived in George Square to thank the city.

During his time in prison he had been awarded the freedom of many cities – Glasgow had been the first – and he wanted to thank them all.

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Released from prison in February 1990, it was in 1993 he was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with South African President FW de Klerk. In May 1994, Mr Mandela became the first president of democratic South Africa.

The renamed street was previously known as St George’s Place, and was the location of apartheid South Africa’s consulate in Scotland at the time. Its renaming in 1986 meant that the regime’s official representatives were to be found at an address named after the country’s highest profile prisoner.

Nelson Mandela was described as having a phenomenal presence

Nelson Mandela was described as having a phenomenal presence

The re-naming ceremony took place on June 16 commemorating the Soweto Uprising on that day in 1976. After the ending of apartheid June 16 was designated as South African Youth Day and is a public holiday in South Africa.

On this significant date, the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation, which is campaigning for a statue of the late South African president, has launched a final push to raise remaining funds.

They are have a further £10,000 to go to reach their £100,000 target which will then allow them to launch a competition to find the artist who will create the statue.

Brian Filling, chair of the NMSMF, who was instrumental in bringing Mr Mandela to Glasgow in 1993 to accept the freedom of the city, hopes they will reach their target this summer, before being able to move to the next stage of creating a statue which is interactive with educational links.

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The foundation has received planning permission, which had to be extended following lockdown restrictions affecting the timeframe, to site a statue of Mr Mandela in Nelson Mandela Place. The foundation has also been conducting educational activity about apartheid, the life and struggle of Mr Mandela, his connection with Scotland.

"I think Glasgow has always had a strong sense of international solidarity," said Mr Filling. "And through this statue and our educational programmes we can continue our work around racism awareness, inequality and injustice.

“Thirty-five years after the people of Glasgow sent shockwaves to the apartheid government in Pretoria, we are within touching distance of putting Nelson Mandela at the heart of Nelson Mandela Place. It is thanks to the donations - large and small - from individuals and civil society that we have come this far."

Former South African President Nelson Mandela giving a speech on stage during his visit to Glasgow in October 1993.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela giving a speech on stage during his visit to Glasgow in October 1993.

Mr Filling remembers the day Mr Mandela was in Glasgow to meet hosts of the other eight UK cities he had been given the freedom of.

"Mr Mandela had a phenomenal presence. I remember it was an awful day, pouring with rain, and he was to meet a number of people in the City Chambers," added Mr Filling. "We had supplied briefs to his aids, but I remember the great attention to detail he had when he spoke to people."

As well as raising money for a statue, their education programme for schools and a young generation, is now more important than ever.

Mr Filling added: “Three and a half decades after Scotland sent that powerful message, racism is sadly still at large, at home and abroad. A permanent memorial to Nelson Mandela will not only remind Scots of their proud history of solidarity with the South African people, but it will also educate future generations to stand up against racism and prejudice wherever it rears its ugly head.”

A virtual event to mark the anniversary can be viewed from 12noon at To donate to their campaign go to