Five sites in running for Nelson Mandela tribute

Nelson Mandela had strong links to the Capital and Scotland. Picture: Donald MacLeod
Nelson Mandela had strong links to the Capital and Scotland. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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FIVE possible sites for a permanent memorial to Nelson Mandela in the Capital have been unveiled.

Festival Square is in the running, as are major new public spaces at the Haymarket, New Waverley, St James and Fountainbridge developments.

The tribute will celebrate the city’s links with the former South African leader and anti-apartheid revolutionary, who died in December last year.

Mr Mandela received the Freedom of Edinburgh in 1997 after visiting for the Commonwealth heads of government meeting.

And the South African flag was flown in July 2008 to celebrate his 90th birthday, with a special commemoration book opened for the public to sign over a four-week period.

It is not yet known whether the memorial will take the form of a monument or street re-naming, and funding details have also to be confirmed.

The development has been warmly welcomed by officials at the South African High Commission in London, who said it was a reminder of the global relevance of Mr ­Mandela’s life.

High Commissioner Obed Mlaba said: “The South African High Commission notes the news of the imminent honouring of former President Nelson Mandela by the Edinburgh City Council with the greatest of joy and humility.

“This recognition is one that continues to remind us that the story of South Africa is not only about South Africans, but the world at large.

“The understanding that all human beings are equal is one that the people of Scotland openly espoused many years ago through their support for ending apartheid when only a few countries were willing to do so.”

He added: “This lesson of equality remains a core of the South African society and a key pillar in our constitution. More importantly, equality is a value that South Africa cherishes and is proud that it can reference in the scope of its relationship with the people of Scotland.”

The list of potential sites comes after Lord Provost Donald Wilson proposed a motion in December calling for moves towards the creation of a memorial.

This was later approved on the basis that any investigation would include the possibility of renaming Festival Square.

City bosses said it was crucial to mark Mr Mandela’s links with the Capital.

Council leader Andrew Burns said: “Edinburgh has a long and close association with South Africa and its struggle for equality and, of course, with Nelson Mandela himself.

“His influence extended far beyond South Africa’s borders and his legacy and everything it represents will live on forever. It is important that Edinburgh creates a lasting tribute to Nelson Mandela in order to commemorate his contribution to creating multi-racial democracy in South Africa and his long association with the city.”