Anti-Apartheid exhibition comes to Midlothian

Friday January 29th 2016

Nelson Mandela in Glasgow 1993Anti-Apartheid exhibition comes to Midlothian

A fascinating exhibition which tells the story of the anti-apartheid movement is coming to a Midlothian library.

The Anti-Apartheid Archives Committee exhibition – “Forward to Freedom: Anti-Apartheid Movement History” – will be open to the public at Dalkeith Library from Tuesday, 9th of February.

Scotland played a key role in the struggle against apartheid, with local activists making a significant contribution at the time. In February 1985, Midlothian campaigned for the release of Nelson Mandela and he was made a Freeman while still in prison.

David Kenvyn, vice-chair of Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) Scotland, said: “Scotland played a significant role in the international campaign against apartheid. Four Scottish local authorities – Glasgow, Midlothian, Aberdeen and Dundee – made Nelson Mandela a Freeman, when he was still in gaol. It was a decision that infuriated Margaret Thatcher, the then Prime Minister.

“Nelson Mandela never forgot Scotland’s contribution to his release. The people of Midlothian should be very proud.”

The exhibition has been brought to Scotland by the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) Archives Committee and ACTSA Scotland, the successor organisation to the AAM. It consists of 26 boards, four of which are specific to events in Scotland, especially those relating to the campaign for the release of the former president of South Africa and other political prisoners, in which Scotland played such a significant role.

A spokesman for Midlothian Libraries said: “It is very special for us to be hosting this exhibition, especially because of the special role that our authority played in the international solidarity struggle against apartheid.

“We hope these attention-grabbing boards will inspire a new generation to learn about the anti-apartheid movement and its enduring struggle which was symbolised by the release of Nelson Mandela.”

The Forward to Freedom exhibition tells the story of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement and its campaigns to support the people of Southern Africa in their fight against apartheid and white minority rule.

In 1959, the Boycott Movement organised a boycott of South African produce. It grew into a movement of hundreds of thousands of people, calling for sanctions against South Africa and the release of Nelson Mandela.

You can find more information about the Anti-Apartheid Movement at For news from Action for Southern Africa Scotland go to

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