When we think of Glasgow we think of industrialisation, Celtic and Rangers, the river Clyde, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Belle and Sebastian, tons of Turner Prize winners and nominees… But like any other city, Glasgow also has those smaller places, unknown to the majority but loved by those who know the story behind.
And this is the case of a little square at the city centre, just in Buchanan Street.
When some countries around the world were still seeing Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, Glasgow decided to offer him the “Freedom of the City”. This was 1981.
But Glasgow didn´t stop there, they went a step further. The South African consulate was back then situated in a small square called Saint George´s Place, right in the city centre. In 1986 this little square was renamed, its new name was Nelson Mandela Place, and a plaque with the name was hanged from the opposite wall of the consulate.
Nowadays you still can see the original plaque, which is quite easy to distinguish as it is the only one that is a bit different. Nelson Mandela then visited Glasgow in 1993, and in a beautiful speech he thanked the people of Glasgow for their support and concern.
While we were physically denied our freedom in the country of our birth, a city 6,000 miles away, and as renowned as Glasgow, refused to accept the legitimacy of the apartheid system, and declared us to be free.
When Nelson Mandela passed away a few months ago, that square (where a church is also located) was full of flowers, posters, flags, letters… The people in Glasgow still cared for him, and they can proudly say that they were one of the first cities to support Nelson Mandela, to understand his cause and not look away, to confront what was politically correct at the time and raise questions.
For things like this I feel happy to live in such an extraordinary city. If you ever come to Glasgow, don´t just walk past this little church and square, just spend a couple of minutes remembering the whole story behind the name of the square.
Thank you for reading.
PS My computer has decided not to read the SD card from the camera so the images are taken from the internet. As soon as this issue is resolved I will change them to the ones I took.