Press release

‘Scotland, Global Solidarity, and Mandela’ – exhibition opens

Published on 13 October 2022

An exhibition that celebrates the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela has opened at the University of Dundee.

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Scotland, Global Solidarity, and Mandela has opened in the University’s Tower Foyer Gallery and runs until Friday 16 December.

Using archival photos and posters, the exhibition recalls the story of Nelson Mandela’s relationship with Scotland and the role played by the Scottish people in the global effort to end apartheid. The exhibition also documents Dundee’s contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle and the campaign to secure Mandela’s release from prison.

The struggle for human rights, equality and democracy in South Africa developed into one of the largest global social movements of the 20th century, uniting millions of people from around the world.

To coincide with the exhibition, Dr Matt Graham, an expert in African history at Dundee, and Dr Christopher Fevre from the University of the Free State, will talk about the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) in Scotland and Dundee’s connections to the South African liberation struggle.

“Dundee should be very proud of the city’s contribution to anti-apartheid activism,” said Dr Graham.

“The most significant anti-apartheid activity in Dundee was the successful campaign to award Nelson Mandela the Freedom of the City in 1985. This symbolic act was a considerable demonstration of Dundonians’ solidarity with Mandela and the people of South Africa.

“The legacy of Dundee’s role in the anti-apartheid struggle can still be seen today through a plaque inside the foyer of the Central Library which commemorates Mandela’s status as a Freeman of the City.”

The Scottish Committee of the AAM was formed at a meeting held in the University of Dundee’s Student Union in 1976, and across the city there were regular rallies, pickets, and boycotts opposing the apartheid state and its links to Britain.

Dundee also had its own local anti-apartheid group which was particularly active throughout the 1980s and which led the campaign to have Mandela made a Freeman of the City.

John Nelson, long-standing former Secretary of the Scottish Committee of the AAM, said, “We were all drawn to the movement for individual reasons. I came from a long line of missionaries while others were from the trade unions. Regardless of our backgrounds we wanted to fight the injustices of apartheid in any way we could. I went to an anti-apartheid meeting in my first year at university and it never really went away for me after that.

“The highlight for me was Mandela’s visit to Glasgow in 1993 to accept the freedom of the nine UK cities that had bestowed that honour on him. Four of these were in Scotland, so that perhaps tells you something about the level of anti-apartheid support here.”

The public talk will be held in the Tower Building, University of Dundee, on Wednesday 19 October from 5.30-6.30pm. Tickets are free and can be booked online.


Jonathan Watson

Senior Press Officer

+44 (0)1382 381489