Make it Happen! - Scotland's Mandela Statue

by John Nelson in Glasgow, Glasgow City, United Kingdom

Total raised £13,676

raised so far

+ est. £2278.75 Gift Aid



Help to complete funding for the statue of Nelson Mandela in Glasgow, to teach about his links with Scotland and his lessons for us all.

by John Nelson in Glasgow, Glasgow City, United Kingdom

We're still collecting donations

On the 9th November 2022 we'd raised £10,575 with 166 supporters in 42 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

The statue

The Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation raises funds for its major project, to commemorate Nelson Mandela with a statue in Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow as a visual aid and a centrepiece of our wider educational programme, both for schools and for the general public. We have reached the stage of digging trial trenches at the planned statue site to check for any underground obstacles not spotted by earlier radar surveys, and are grateful to Sir Robert McAlpine, to Nixon Ltd. and to FES for all their work on this, given free of charge (as well as their commitment to putting in the concrete foundations and physically installing the statue when the time comes, also without charge). The trenches brought to light some unexpected obstacles but we are advised that these can be overcome. Once this is done, the results should enable the grant of the Building Warrant, which will then let us proceed to the sculptor competition. We have ordered a suitable 15 tonne block of South African granite for the statue’s plinth, and this will be delivered shortly to our contractor’s yard in Aberdeenshire to be cut to rough and then exact shape.  The final construction elements will be the casting of the bronze statue, and its installation atop the plinth in Nelson Mandela Place.

Glasgow first in the world

Glasgow was the first city in the world to award Nelson Mandela its Freedom in 1981, when he was still on Robben Island serving life imprisonment for his opposition to apartheid, and the gesture made waves across the world. Other cities followed and on 9th October 1993, as South Africa prepared for its first non-racial election which would make him the country's first black President, he came to Glasgow to receive the Freedoms of all 9 UK local authorities that had awarded them up to that time. After the ceremony he spoke to an ecstatic crowd of many thousands in George Square.

 The project progresses

Just six years after the public launch of the project appeal by Sir Alex Ferguson and thanks to many generous donors in Scotland and beyond we have now raised more than £150,000, enough to launch the competition very soon to find and pay for a sculptor and a design. We are also able to buy an identified 15 tonne block of South African granite for the statue’s plinth, and have this finished in Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, including the transport and heavy lifting machinery to instal it. Our architect is providing all his services free of charge.

The underground concrete foundations, the management of the whole statue installation process when the time comes, and the earlier digging of trial trenches at the planned site to check for any obstacles missed in earlier radar surveys, are also all being provided free of charge by expert contractors who support our objectives.

Coming soon

The statue competition will involve sculptors developing their ideas, the selection of a shortlist, and a public consultation to help choose the final design,  The winning sculptor will then turn that design into solid form, to be cast in bronze and mounted on the plinth in its permanent home. The funding for all this is now in hand, according to all our best estimates and advice on costs, but not all of these can yet be based on fixed quotes so there are almost certain to be some price increases and some unexpected costs. Funds will be needed also for the education material so essential to the whole project, both directly linked to the statue site and more widely disseminated.

Make it happen!

  We will still depend, therefore, on continuing and renewed support from our existing generous donors across Scotland and beyond as well as finding new supporters.  Thanks to all the support received so far we believe we are in sight of erecting the statue itself, as a fitting tribute to Nelson Mandela and a focus for valuable and long-term education on the lessons of his life and legacy for all who work against racial and social injustice. This education work will be a long-term financial commitment, but only the statue needs such a large lump sum to complete.

Our school pack “When Mandela Danced in the Square” is already in use (, and the statue will be a focus for much wider education in every sense. A recent kind donation from the Hugh Fraser Foundation will assist with further development of this kind of material for young people, but the wider education work will need other resources.


Artist's impression of the statue in Nelson Mandela Place. The statue design has not yet been selected, so the image is for illustration only.

More information

For more information about the Foundation, and a collection of videos and other material about the history of apartheid and the world-wide campaign against it, about Mandela's part in this and his connections with Scotland, and about Anti-Apartheid campaigning in Scotland over many years, see our website at

Our Chair Brian Filling has written a substantial pamphlet "The Glasgow Mandela Story" which is available as an ebook from Kindle for 99p at


Copies of some historic anti-apartheid posters, books, cards and badges can be bought on our Ebay site at

Patrons of the Foundation

H. E. Kingsley Mamabolo  High Commissioner of South Africa

Lord Provost Jacqueline McLaren

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Billy Connolly

Sir Kenny Dalglish

H.E. Nomatemba Tambo

Mongane Wally Serote      South Africa's Poet Laureate

Marah Louw     Eminent South African musician and actor, who danced with Mandela in Glasgow's George Square

Support for the Crowdfunder campaign

 David Hayman   "When I think of all the heroes I have had in my life, those whose inspiration and moral courage  have meant so much to me, Nelson Mandela has to be top of my list. He was an extraordinary World Leader who inspired millions of people to believe that a better World is possible."    

Sam Heughan  "I am happy to lend my name to this project"

Denise Mina

Lord (Jack) McConnell  "A Nelson Mandela statue in Glasgow would do so much more than recognise the efforts of the city to oppose the evil of apartheid.It would remind us of the struggle for freedom and the example of dignity and leadership he showed as President of South Africa."

Lin Anderson

Baroness (Helen) Liddell  "It is a wonderful initiative to have a statue to commemorate such a great man and such an important fight. Our children and grandchildren need to know the story of Mandela to ensure what he suffered is never repeated and to prove that peaceful protest, around the world, can be successful.”

Bailie Roza Salih

Ian Murray MP

Alyn Smith MP   "More power to your elbow"

Provost Kenneth Duffy (North Lanarkshire)   “Rarely – if ever- does the entire world recognise the impact of just one man. This statue would be a testament to Nelson Mandela’s immeasurable legacy to Scotland and the world."

Cllr. Philip Braat

Cllr. Soryia Siddique

Cllr. Keiran O'Neill

Pauline Bryan, Labour Peer   "George Square was electric the day Mandela came to receive the freedom of the city that had been granted 12 years earlier.  He is part of Glasgow’s history and we should mark that with a statue."

Cllr. Holly Bruce

Lord (George) Foulkes    "The statue will be a focus in telling future generations of the important part played by Scotland in ending the evil regime of apartheid and bringing true democracy to South Africa. It will also be a counter balance to the many statues of men who profited from the exploitation of their fellow men."

Lord (David) Steel     "The placing of a statue in Scotland is entirely appropriate, since Scotland was a leading player in the fight for his release."

Lord Strathcarron  “With his message of peace and reconciliation and the unity of nations, Nelson Mandela was an inspiration to all of mankind and it is a wonderful tribute to him that Glasgow is taking this excellent initiative.”

Lord (Neil) Kinnock  “When powerless, he sacrificed to advance enlightenment and emancipation for all humanity. When powerful, he ruled for the same causes. He had no superior as a man of values.”

Lord (Peter) Hain      “Mandela was the iconic leader of the 20th century, for justice, equality and freedom.” 

Maggie Chapman MSP

Stuart McMillan MSP

Lord (Paul) Boateng    ” Statues are more than just pieces of stone. They symbolise relationships worthy of memory and respect! The relationship between the peoples of Scotland and of Africa was critical in overcoming  the monumental evil of racism through Scotland's support for the work of the Anti Apartheid Movement.This statue  will be a reminder not just of the  struggle against racism but of the need for eternal vigilance against all forms of injustice and the continuing  need for the activism and sacrifice that Nelson  Mandela embodied! "

Provost Margaret Cooper (South Lanarkshire)  “The links between Scotland, Nelson Mandela, his life, and legacy remain hugely important to this day. From awarding him the freedom of Glasgow in 1981 while still a prisoner on Robben Island, to the naming of Nelson Mandela Place in 1986, and subsequently having the privilege of welcoming him as a free man on his visit in 1993, we have long stood in solidarity with all that he represented. As the world looks to mark the 10th anniversary of his death next year, Scotland can again lead the way in ensuring the principles he stood for, and the freedoms he fought for, are celebrated, and remembered yet further for current and future generations as we continue to strive for true equality for all.”

Depute Lord Provost Christy Mearns (Glasgow):  "Mandela’s legacy and Glasgow’s solidarity with South Africa in the fight against apartheid should be celebrated & remembered."

Zoe Wicomb:   “If renaming St George's Place in 1986 was an ironic riposte to apartheid, a Mandela sculpture would go a long way towards ameliorating the legacy of colonialism. Mandela walked out of prison in beauty, his guiding spirit of ubuntu ('I am because we are') a fitting gift to the people of Glasgow.” 

Paul McLennan MSP:   "Nelson Mandela was an amazing man and one of my political heroes.  I'm delighted to support the crowdfunder for a statue in Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow."

Patrick Grady MP

Monica Lennon MSP: "Scotland’s Mandela Statue will be a fitting tribute to Nelson Mandela in Scotland, and will help us advance anti-racist education and achieve social justice. Let’s raise the funds during Black History Month to make it happen!"

Tendai Huchu: "A very worthy project indeed!"

Lord Provost Jacqueline McLaren (Glasgow):  “It is my great pleasure to support the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial campaign.
“Glasgow holds Mr Mandela’s memory close to its heart and it is only fitting that his historic achievements and great personal sacrifices are honoured by the erection of a statue in the city to remind future generations of his struggle to topple apartheid in South Africa.
“Of course, Glasgow was the first city in the world to grant the revered civil rights campaigner Freedom of the City while he was still incarcerated in 1981 and it was a joyful and momentous occasion when, finally freed, he was able to travel here to receive the honour in person in 1993.
“In 1986, prior to his release, Glasgow named Nelson Mandela Place in support of the man who had become the world’s most famous political prisoner and in 1988 Glasgow Green was the starting point for the epic Nelson Mandela Freedom March to London.
“I’m told the great man, who went on to become South Africa’s first Black President, never forgot the support Glaswegians showed him during his incarceration. And even after his sad death in 2013, the city’s links with his family live on. Indeed, it was an honour for Glasgow to welcome his grand-daughter, Tukwini, to his birthday celebrations here during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
  “No one who lived through those historic times will forget the name Nelson Mandela and I believe a statue is a fitting tribute to ensure the Nobel Peace Prize winner and all he stood for, are forever remembered in Scotland.”  

Alexander McCall Smith: “If there is one person in the world who deserves a statue it is surely Nelson Mandela. That there should be a statue of him in Glasgow is the most wonderful idea.”

Roz Foyer:  "Scotland's trade unions had a key part to play in supporting the anti-apartheid movement. A permanent memorial to Nelson Mandela will act as a tribute to the struggle for freedom in South Africa and will also stand as a reminder that the fight against racism is far from over.  It will inspire us to redouble our efforts, here and abroad, to fight for justice."


Some photographs:


Nelson Mandela and the crowd in George Square, Glasgow on 9th October, 1993, after accepting the Freedom of Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Midlothian, Newcastle, Hull, Sheffield, Greenwich and Islwyn at a joint ceremony in Glasgow City Chambers.


O.R. Tambo and platform - Glasgow Green "Free Mandela" rally - 12th June, 1988


Crowd at Glasgow Green rally.  30,000 attended, from all over Scotland and beyond, after marching through the city to call for the release of Nelson Mandela.


Brian Filling, Ismail Ayob, Jim Kerr and Cllr. Danny Crawford, with a sign for Nelson Mandela Place


Jim Kerr sings "Mandela Day" at Glasgow Green rally.


Nelson Mandela dances with Marah Louw at rally in George Square, Glasgow, 9th October 1993, after receiving the Freedom of Glasgow, Midlothian, Dundee, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Sheffield, Greenwich, Hull and Islwyn at a joint ceremony in the City Chambers.


Crowd in Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow, 6th December, 2013, to mourn Mandela's death the previous day.


Composite picture of Mandela and the street sign in Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow


Portrait of Nelson Mandela painted by Anne H. Mackintosh. Commissioned by Glasgow Caledonian University to celebrate its honorary doctorate for Mandela, this hangs in the Govan Mbeki building at the university, where it was unveiled in 2000 by his wife Graça Machel.


This project offered rewards

£50 or more

Notelet card of Mandela Freedom banner

An A5 greetings or notelet card, with envelope, of a banner painted in 1981 by Jim Cathcart to mark the Freedom of the City being awarded by Glasgow to Nelson Mandela (1st city in the world to do so). The symbolism of the design is explained on the back, both relating to Mandela and also to the elements of Glasgow's Coat of Arms. The original banner is held in the Scottish Anti-Apartheid Movement archive in Glasgow Caledonian University.

£60 or more

Mandela Scottish Memorial button badge

A stainless steel lapel badge of the logo of the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation, featuring Mandela's picture with the organisation name. Offered here as a thank-you for your donation.

£100 or more

A2 reproduction of the 1993 Mandela visit poster.

A modern A2 reproduction of the poster produced for the 1993 visit to Glasgow by Nelson Mandela, with the names of the nine local authorities presenting their Freedoms that day included round the edge. The original was designed by Cranhill Arts - Alistair McCallum and Jane Carroll. Supplied in postal tube.

£100 or more

Team Handbook S. African Commonwealth Games Team

The team handbook for South Africa's team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Quite a number of the team attended the Nelson Mandela International Day celebration in Nelson Mandela Place just before the Games, entertained by the Mzansi Youth Choir and addressed by Mandela's granddaughter Tukwini.

£500 or more

Mandela Portrait print

Reduced print on light card of the striking portrait of Nelson Mandela by Anne H. Mackintosh, which hangs in the Govan Mbeki Building at Glasgow Caledonian University. The original painting was commissioned by the University to celebrate its link with Nelson Mandela, and was unveiled by his wife Graça Machel in 2000. See original on at Card 66cmx51cm With thanks to Glasgow Caledonian University Archive Centre

£1,000 or more

Original poster from Mandela visit to Scotland

An original publicity poster for the 1993 visit to Glasgow by Nelson Mandela to receive the Freedom of the City from Glasgow (originally awarded in his absence in 1981) and from Aberdeen, Dundee, Midlothian, Islwyn, Greenwich, Hull, Newcastle and Sheffield (listed round the border). Posters not in mint condition due to storage, but reasonably good. Designed by Alistair McCallum and Jane Carroll at Cranhill Arts 98x74cm Supplied in postal tube

Show your support

Payment and personal details are protected