HUNDREDS of people gathered in Glasgow’s Nelson Mandela Place to pay tribute to the memory of the South African leader.
Despite the bitter cold and rain, the square which was renamed in honour of the former South African president in 1986, was packed with people who wanted to remember and show their respect and admiration for the political icon.
They listened intently to tributes and speeches from people who had campaigned for Mr Mandela’s freedom from prison and against apartheid.
Dr Iain Whyte, who had been chair of the Scottish Churches Southern Africa Group and convener of the Church of Scotland’s Africa committee, was among the speakers. He was present when Mr Mandela visited Glasgow in 1993. It had been the first city in the world to confer on Mr Mandela its freedom.
Dr Whyte said: “It’s obviously very sad and the end of an era, and yet tremendous gratitude for the legacy and everybody on the platform was saying that, the legacy he has left.
“Mr Mandela also showed so much courage, so much commitment to a just and equal South Africa. My wife mentioned that he knew when to step down from power, which not many leaders know how to do. He had so many qualities, he was a citizen of the world.”
A small shrine had developed at the entrance to St George’s Tron Church which flanks the street. Dozens of flowers, candles and messages of love, gratitude and tribute had been left.
People stopped to read the tributes outside the church and take photos of the makeshift shrine which included pictures of the late leader.
Groups of people stood together, some wrapped in the South African flag, with their fists aloft as a choir sang in Afrikaans.
Local man Joe Murray recalled Mr Mandela’s visit to the city two decades ago. He said: “It was in terrible weather, but even though it was bucketing down, nobody put an umbrella up because they didn’t want to block the view of those behind them, it was that kind of event.”
The crowd was entertained with music from folk act Arthur and the Stars Band and the Eurydice Glasgow Socialist Women’s Choir, both of which performed during Mr Mandela’s visit to Glasgow.