“The world has lost an immense and enduring presence.” These were the words penned by Shetland MSP Tavish Scott today in a book of condolence for Nelson Mandela.
Shetland Islands Council began the tribute on Friday following the death of the former South African president and anti-apartheid campaigner.
Mr Scott said he studied apartheid while a student at the Anderson High School and said Mandela was a “figure that children will follow and learn from for generations to come”.
When Mr Scott was elected to the council in 1994, it was the same month millions stood in line to vote for Mandela to be president.
“I just remember people queuing for hours and hours on end,” Mr Scott said. “It was quite something.”
Huge rock concerts and events calling for Mandela’s release from prison were also abiding memories, Mr Scott said, along with the passionate anti-apartheid feeling in Shetland.
“I think those enormous concerts that happened in Wembley and other parts of the world were very important in making sure the Mandela flame was kept alive for the next generation,” he said.
Shetland Islands Council convener Malcolm Bell described Mandela as “A man of great courage, dignity and determination, whose like will not be seen again”.
Shetland, Mr Bell said, had a number of strong links with South Africa through projects like The Global Classroom scheme – a student exchange programme which the Anderson High School was involved with. Mr Bell’s son visited South Africa in 2003 through the project.
“What I found most impressive was his [Mandela’s] grim determination, dignity and sheer good manners in the face of some insurmountable odds,” Mr Bell said. “He was a colossus whose like we will not see again in our lifetimes.”
The book of condolence is located inside the main door at the Lerwick Town Hall and is available to the public during office hours.
“It’s very important to give Shetland people and opportunity to express their appreciation for his life,” Mr Bell added.