Hundreds gather in city square named to back hero's struggle

HUNDREDS gathered in Glasgow for a memorial service celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela.

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Less than 24 housr after the death of the former South African president young and old met in Nelson Mandela Place, named after him in suport of his battle in 1986.

A podium was erected and politicians from across the city took turns to speak about the statesman's life and impact, as the crowd shouted "Viva Mandela" and applauded.

Politicians and activists, among them Glasgow council leader Gordon Matheson and Glasgow Central MP Anas Sarwar, gathered at 5pm, and spoke of the statesman's life, impact and relationship with Glasgow.

In the crowd Sonwabiso Ntonga, 20, a student from South Africa but who now lives in Glasgow with her mother, said: "I came to remember him, for all the great things he has done.

"As a South African it is important to be here to support him, and also knowing the history of Glasgow with South Africa, I thought it was a duty of mine to come and represent the people of my country.

"When I was little, my uncle was friends with him, so we went to Mandela's house.

"I don't have any photographs but I met him when I was four. He was very welcoming."

Gerry McCulloch, a retired English teacher from Saltcoats said: "I came up deliberately because I was in Durban some years ago and I saw first hand the impact that Mandela made there.

"I was part of a Scottish delegation of teachers and we went to look at the black township schools there.

And Sal Bennett, 45, an upholsterer from the west of Glasgow joined the vigil with her son Shay and his friend Saami.

She said: " I was at the Free Mandela march the year before he was released.

"I think it's a really important, significant thing to recognise and to teach my children to recognise his importance. I think it's vital that they know about Mandela.

"The march was heartfelt, very emotional and it was one of the most peaceful demonstrations I've ever been on.

"It was a celebration of his life, he had to be released."

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