Springingtiger's Blog


Free Man of Glasgow
December 6, 2013, 11:50
Filed under: Justice, Scotland, success | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I was late to bed last night or, rather, this morning. The nonstop coverage of Nelson Mandela’s passing held me like a rabbit in the headlights, a sort of compulsive sadness. I remember that day in 1990, glued to the television, waiting to see Mandela walk free, the commentators trying to fill in the delay with talk, hoping nothing had gone wrong and then the tears when we finally saw him. Neelam and I went down to Nelson Mandela Place to celebrate; two of our friends had named their son “Mandela”, the little fellow was most confused as so many people asked him, “Mandela, what’s it like to be free?” We’re a funny lot in Glasgow!

Even more than watching Mandela walk free, more than his inauguration, the thing that moved me was the sight of the queues waiting to vote in the elections of 1994, particularly one old woman picked up by the television cameras who had waited in line for more than a day to vote for the first time in her life. In April 1994 this black woman became a citizen of her own country, a human being in her own right. It brought home to me just how precious is our right to vote. It saddens me that people don’t use their vote,  they don’t realise how dearly it has been won. The ordinary people of Scotland have never been consulted on whether they want to be part of the United Kingdom, next year,  at last, we have our say; whether you oppose independence or whether you want to see Scotland free, it is important to vote. Democracy is too precious to squander,  we have the opportunity to bring meaningful democracy to Scotland, we must use it.

Nelson Mandela holds up an ideal of leadership to the world. His example is a rebuke to our politicians because it shows that a politician can serve the people, a politician need not be self serving and greedy. Nelson Mandela holds up a promise of the possibility of integrity in politics and mutual respect between people of different opinions. Today we remember and celebrate Nelson Mandela and his contribution to our lives. Tomorrow we go forward to build the future and a fitting legacy for Nelson Mandela.

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