NELSON Mandela's relationship to Scotland is explored in a new exhibition co-hosted by the University of Dundee.

Scotland, Global Solidarity, and Mandela opened at Dundee’s Central Library, Wellgate Centre on Thursday April 28 and runs until Wednesday May 18.

Using original archival photos and posters, the exhibition recalls the story of Nelson Mandela’s relationship to Scotland, and the role played by the people of Scotland in the global struggle to end apartheid. 

The exhibition also documents Dundee’s contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle and the campaign to secure Mandela’s release from prison.

Dr Matt Graham, a historian of Africa at the University of Dundee, said: “Dundee should be very proud of the city’s contribution to anti-apartheid activism.

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“The most significant anti-apartheid activity in Dundee was the successful campaign to award Nelson Mandela the Freedom of the City in 1985. This symbolic act was a considerable demonstration of Dundonians’ solidarity with Mandela and the people of South Africa. 

“The legacy of Dundee’s role in the anti-apartheid struggle can still be seen today through a plaque inside the foyer of the Central Library which commemorates Mandela’s status as a freeman of the city.”

The National:

Along with the exhibition, an event exploring the history of Dundee’s involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle and its connections to Nelson Mandela will take place on Saturday May 7. 

Organisers Dr Matt Graham and Dr Christopher Fevre (University of the Free State) will be joined by former members of the Anti-Apartheid Movement to discuss their experiences of the campaign. 

John Nelson, former secretary of the Scottish committee of the AAM, said: “We were all drawn to the movement for individual reasons. I came from a long line of missionaries while others were from the trade unions. 

“Regardless of our backgrounds, we wanted to fight the injustices of apartheid in any way we could. I went to an anti-apartheid meeting in my first year at university and it never really went away for me after that. 

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“The highlight for me was Mandela’s visit to Glasgow in 1993 to accept the freedom of the nine UK cities that had bestowed that honour on him. 

“Four of these were in Scotland, so that perhaps tells you something about the level of anti-apartheid support here. Glasgow was the first city in the world to make Mandela a freeman back in 1981 and that caught the attention of the world.”

The struggle for human rights, equality and democracy in South Africa developed into one of the largest global social movements of the 20th century, uniting millions of people from around the world behind the anti-apartheid cause. 

In Britain, opposition to the apartheid system in South Africa was led by the AAM. The Scottish committee of the AAM was formed at a meeting held in the University of Dundee’s Student Union in 1976, and across the city there were regular rallies, pickets, and boycotts opposing the apartheid state and its links to Britain. 

The exhibition and events are free to attend.