THE grandson of Nelson Mandela addressed a crowd in Glasgow as part of a pro-Palestine demonstration calling for a ceasefire in the Middle East on Saturday.

Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, an MP in South Africa and chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council, made the speech outside of Glasgow City Chambers in the city’s George Square on a Global Day of Action.

It was an historic moment given the connection Glasgow has with his late grandfather. In 1981, Nelson Mandela was given the Freedom of the City of Glasgow. At the time, the future president of South Africa was 17 years into the 27-year term he would serve in Robben Island after being jailed for life.

Then in 1986, St George's Place in Glasgow was renamed Nelson Mandela Place, and still is.

In 1993, Nelson Mandela ­visited Glasgow City Chambers, and said: “While we were physically denied our freedom in the country of our birth, a city 6000 miles away, and as renowned as Glasgow, refused to accept the legitimacy of the apartheid system, and declared us to be free.”

The National:

Mandela's grandson told the crowd: “I bring you revolutionary greetings from South Africa. I address you today as a free man because generations of Scottish anti-apartheid activists defied the forces of global imperialism and protested against the apartheid regime in South Africa.

"We salute the brave people of Glasgow and Scotland who have gathered here in support of South Africa’s case against Apartheid Israel on the charge of genocide. This is a heroic act even greater than the stand you took in support of South Africa’s struggle for freedom.

"We salute the heroes of the anti-apartheid movement in Scotland and the leadership of Glasgow who 10 years before his release on the August 3 1981, granted my grandfather, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the Freedom of the City of Glasgow whilst he was still incarcerated on Robben Island."

The National:

He added: "It is an act that made him immensely proud and provided much needed motivation and inspiration in the darkest hour of his incarceration and critical junction in our struggle for liberation.

"I am proud of all of you gathered here at the Nelson Mandela Place today. You walk in the bold footsteps of our Scottish heroes who on the June 12 1987, began their march as part of the Nelson Mandela Freedom at 70 Campaign. It is said that was the most ambitious campaign in the Anti Apartheid Movement’s history which set off from Glasgow.

"May that proud history repeat itself through your actions in Glasgow today and just as the actions of South Africa’s case against Apartheid Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is globally lauded and celebrated, may your voices reach the children of Gaza, may your actions embolden the Palestinian resistance to carry on the struggle against occupation and against genocide."

A video of his contribution has gone viral with more than 20,000 views on Twitter/X.

It was posted by Pinar Aksu, a PhD researcher on art and law in migration at the University of Glasgow, who was in the crowd. She wrote: “solidarity knows no borders”.

Aksu told The National the moment was “unique and special“.

She said: “As we gathered to hear the voices of the people from Palestine, we also heard from the grandson of Nelson Mandela. This was unique and special as we heard words of solidarity, words of unity, and not giving up. 

“As the world witnesses genocide in real time, the action of South Africa gives us all hope in justice and highlights the importance of the rule of law."

She added that Glasgow continues to “to stand against oppression” 100 days since the war began and behind South Africa during their case against Israel.

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Aksu added: “It's been 100 days since the world continues to watch the genocide in Palestine. Thousands of civilians are murdered. Children, mothers, fathers and lives are lost. 

“In Glasgow, we continue to stand against oppression and ask for an end to the Genocide in Palestine. It is a historical action by South Africa to take legal action against the State of Israel in violation of the genocide convention at the International Court of Justice."

Katrina Brown from Glasgow replied to the video on Twitter/X: “Amazing. Almost 40 years on from when St George's Place - then home of the stock exchange - was renamed in honour of Mandela as part of the protests that eventually brought an end to apartheid in South Africa.”

Another social media user said: “History rhyming. I wish it didn't have to this time”

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Zwelivelile Mandela also called on Scots to "intensify the struggle on all fronts".

He said: "South Africa's case before the ICJ is one example of what we can do. It is an important milestone in the march to free Palestine. Your protest action here brings to bear pressure on Apartheid Israel to stop the genocide.

"We call on Parliamentarians around the world to pass a motion supporting the case at the ICJ and say to the world we will not stand by silently whilst a genocide unfolds in front of our eyes.

"We call on workers, students, academics, sportspersons, civil society formations, faith based organisations in Glasgow, all of Scotland and all around the world to picket and protest and condemn the genocide.

"We call on all activists in Glasgow and Scotland to intensify the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign and isolate the murderers of Palestinian babies, children, the elderly and innocent civilians. We must cut the umbilical cord that feeds and sustains the occupation and the genocide.

"We stand by the right of the Palestinians to resist occupation under international law and condemn any attempt to silence the voices of those who protest against genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes under the Genocide Convention."

The South African also said he was "duty-bound to stand with my brother and fellow revolutionary", Mick Napier.

Napier, of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, is currently facing charges under the Terrorism Act 2000 after telling a crowd he wanted to “thank” Hamas “for breaking out of the Gaza concentration camp on October 7”.

“They were slated to die in Gaza and they fought their way out,” he said.

Scottish PEN, a national part of the global freedom of expression organisation, criticised Napier’s arrest and raised concerns that it appeared “to follow a pattern of restrictions being placed on the ability to protest more generally”.