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Public invited to Aberdeenís Mandela memorial

23/05/14

The citizens of Aberdeen are being invited to remember Nelson Mandela at a special memorial service on Sunday 25 May at the Kirk of St Nicholas Uniting, Union Street.

Aberdeen Lord Provost George Adam hopes that people of all faiths will join him at the celebration of the life of the former President of South Africa, who died on 05 December 2013.

The inter-faith service will begin at 11am with a call to worship by Rev Stephen Taylor, minister of the Kirk. This will be followed by readings from Hebrew and Christian scriptures and an address by Aberdeen City Councillor Barney Crockett, a former Chief Executive of GREC (Grampian Racial Equality Council) and Tommy Campbell, regional industrial organiser with UNITE trade union, who was heavily involved in the Aberdeen anti-apartheid movement.

Elected members, people from Aberdeen's African community and representatives from the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University will attend and there will also be musical performances from pupils of Aberdeen City Music School and piper Calum Brown of Cults Academy.

The Lord Provost said: "Nelson Mandela is a name which will be remembered for generations. He was a true global icon whose legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of those who fight for freedom, equality and justice across the world. Aberdeen has a great history of support and compassion for people of nations who do not enjoy the same rights and freedoms that we do. This service will celebrate a life which should be an inspiration to us all."

The service is due to finish at 12.30pm approximately.

On 29 November 1984, Nelson Mandela was admitted as a Free Burgess and Guild Brother of the City and Royal Burgh of Aberdeen at a ceremony in the Cowdray Hall. The South African government would not allow Mandela and his wife Winnie to travel to Scotland to accept the awards in person and, as a consequence, the Burgess Diplomas were accepted by Solly Smith on behalf of Nelson Mandela and by Mrs Adelaide Tambo on behalf of Winnie Mandela.

The Freedom of the City of Aberdeen was awarded, "in recognition of the protracted persecution which he has endured and the example which he has set the whole world in his fight for freedom in opposing the evil of apartheid in his native land of South Africa".

At the ceremony, Lord Provost Henry E Rae said: "The people of the City of Aberdeen, through their City Council, are today conferring their highest and most prestigious award – the Freedom of the City to an outstanding leader of the oppressed people of South Africa, Nelson and his wife, Winifred Nomzamo, a no less dedicated fighter for freedom, and leader in her own right".

A copy of the Proceedings was sent to Nelson and Winnie Mandela on 30 January 1985. A reply was received from Ismail Ayob and Associates of Johannesburg, acting on behalf of Mr and Mrs Nelson Mandela in which deep appreciation was expressed to Aberdeen and the fact that the Mandelas were overwhelmed by the support from the city.

Nelson Mandela was able to attend a joint ceremony in the City Chambers, Glasgow on 09 October 1993, where he received a freedom casket and scroll from the people of Aberdeen.