Unlike last year, there have been no adventures and no surprise trips anywhere. This does not mean that I have not been busy. Planning has been going ahead for the celebration of the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth next year. We have set up the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation, and I am one of the trustees. We have now secured charitable status, under Scottish law, and permission from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to collect gift aid on any donations that we receive. We have also received planning permission from Glasgow City Council to put a life-size statue of Nelson Mandela on a plinth in Nelson Mandela Place in the city centre. It will be in the northeast corner of Nelson Mandela Place directly opposite the building that used to house the apartheid South African consulate in Scotland. We have also secured Sir Alec Ferguson, Kenny Dalgleish, and Lord MacFarlane of Bearsden, all of whom are Freemen of the City, as patrons, and also Denis Goldberg and Andrew Mlangeni who are the last survivors of those who were tried alongside Nelson Mandela and sentenced to life imprisonment at the Rivonia Trial in 1963. So, from that point of view we are doing well.
We have also done the costings for the statue, and that will be £250,000 including the cost of the publicity and educational materials. We are committed to raising this money by public subscription, which I have worked out is a donation of £5.00 from everyone in Scotland. I have already drawn up a list of rich and famous Scots to approach, asking for them to support the project either by a donation or a gift. We are also going to hold a fundraising dinner, hopefully at the Hilton Hotel which is where Mandela stayed when he visited Glasgow in 1993 to receive the Freedom of the City of Glasgow and eight other UK cities and boroughs.
Creating the statue will have to go out to public competition and we have to be very specific about the rules. For instance, I think that the statue will have to be cast in Scotland, so that we do not have to pay the transport costs to get it to Glasgow. Also, we have to be very specific about the weight, because that can only be what the pavement is able to cope with. Fortunately, one of our members is an architect and he has been able to advise us about these things, at no cost. This is one of the reasons that we were able to get planning permission. The statue will not fall through the pavement into the subway. As you can imagine, this is very important.
We have also been involved in producing videos. I have been interviewed by Freedom TV for an online video called “Struggle” and I have also been interviewed by the Liliesleaf Farm Project. Liliesleaf is where most of the ANC leadership were arrested prior to the Rivonia Trial. Mandela was not one of them (despite what the film “Long Walk to Freedom” would have us believe) because he was already in prison. I have no idea what that video will be called on even when it will be made available, but I suspect that it will be in July next year. Mandela was born on 18th July 1918.
I have also been asked to go back to Hobeni in South Africa and to Kakina in Bangladesh at some point, but there is nothing definite as yet. Both will depend on the availability of funding so we shall have to see.
So it has been a quiet year in comparison with some of the others, but it has been very busy and I know that next year will be even busier. It is, however, much better than being bored and wondering what I am going to do.
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year