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Remembering Mandela in Glasgow

10DecRemembering Mandela in Glasgow

On the day of the memorial service for former South African President, Nelson Mandela, Jay Smith remembers his encounter with the great man many years ago. As an elected member at the time, Jay found himself amongst the lucky few to be present when Mandela addressed the people of Glasgow.

I was privileged, as an elected member, to be a guest at the 1993 Glasgow presentation to Nelson Mandela in recognition of the cities which awarded him the Freedom of their cities in times when we all condemned apartheid.

At a packed Concert Hall I sat and watched as the choir sang waiting for him to appear. During one of the songs, two men came onto the stage and walked to their seats at the front of the stage near to where I was sitting. Then shortly afterwards, while the choir still was singing, another man came on to the stage and quietly moved to take his seat too.
In a matter of fractions of a second, the full audience of thousands was on its feet and applauding the man who was now sitting quietly in his seat - Nelson Mandela.

He waited until the ovation had finished and when we we had regained our seats he rose to address us. I shall never forget his voice and his stature.

He was much taller than I had imagined him to be and his voice was deep - it came from his experience and from what he had witnessed. It came from his boots - it came from his soul.

After the presentation we waited outside the Concert Hall to see him again. He came out to greet the Glasgow crowds and there were hundreds and hundreds there - just ordinary Glasgow people among the dignitaries who had come from across the country.

He spoke to people as he passed and lifted a small child onto his shoulders. What is most remarkable was the love shown to him from ordinary Glasgow people who rarely turn out for \just anybody\ or politicians or royalty!

The chant which accompanied Nelson\s progress was like the football team giants \Nelson, Nelson, Nelson" or rather "Nel - Son, Nel - Son, Nel- Son".

But the ultimate accolade accorded him, which I know that all Scots aspire to some day, came as a soaring voice above the throng: \Go on yersell Wee Man\.

You cannot say more.

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