Anti-apartheid exhibition opens at GCU

06 April 2016

Scotland’s role in the international anti-apartheid movement is explored in Forward to Freedom, a pop-up exhibition at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).

The exhibition, which runs until April 29, tells the story of the Anti-Apartheid Movement across Britain and its campaigns to support the people of South Africa in their fight against oppression. The exhibition, in the Saltire Centre, features Nelson Mandela’s 1993 visit to Glasgow and Scotland’s role in the cultural boycott of apartheid.

GCU Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE launched the exhibition this week with Honorary Consul for South Africa in Scotland, Brian Filling, a GCU honorary graduate, and Carole McCallum, University Archivist.

Professor Gillies congratulated the AAM Archives Committee for their work in educating people about anti-apartheid and making their archives accessible to all.

Touching on GCU’s continuing links with Africa, including work with Transnet Freight Rail and the new African Leadership College in Mauritius, Professor Gillies said: “Our connections with Africa really do run deep.”

Mr Filling, founding Chair of the Scottish Committee of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, said: “This exhibition provides a fascinating insight into one of the most significant and successful campaigns in Britain in support of the people of South Africa in their fight against apartheid and includes several display panels relating specifically to the campaign in Scotland, including Nelson Mandela’s visit to Glasgow in 1993 to receive the Freedoms of nine UK cities. GCU is to be congratulated on hosting this unique exhibition.”

The links between GCU and the new South Africa were first forged when Nelson Mandela was released from prison and the University offered him an honorary degree - the first university in the world to do so. Part of Mr Mandela’s acceptance of the honour was the condition that GCU offered concrete support for reconstruction and development of South Africa.

Now GCU is to make the full story of Scotland’s role in the movement accessible to researchers and the community. It has been awarded funding from the National Archives Cataloguing Grants Programme to catalogue the records of the Anti-Apartheid Movement Scottish Committee held at GCU.