Government Departments

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South Africa and International Organizations in United Kingdom

Brian Filling - Honorary Consul for South Africa in Scotland

The ties between Scotland and South Africa are strong and deep. These ties exist at many levels and take many forms, including with the Scottish Government, Local Authorities, business, education, churches and trades unions as well as culture and sport.

Scots missionaries established Lovedale Institution and the University of Fort Hare in the nineteenth century. Lovedale was the longest lasting non-racial institution in South Africa until ended by apartheid and many African leaders studied at the University of Fort Hare, including Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela.

Glasgow was the first city in the world to award Nelson Mandela the Freedom of the City in 1981 when he was still incarcerated. Mandela visited Glasgow in 1993 to collect the Freedoms of all the UK cities, including Aberdeen, Dundee and the district of Midlothian, which had given him the honour. In Edinburgh a statue, ‘Woman and Child’, dedicated to South African freedom fighters, was erected in 1986 in the city’s Festival Square

Since 1994 and the ending of apartheid, connections between the two countries have continued to develop and deepen. There are now countless links between business, education, local authorities, churches, trade unions and students as well as cultural organisations and artistes.

In 2010 a Business seminar organised by the South African Department of Trade and Industry in Edinburgh brought together some 50 Scottish businesses with an interest in South Africa, ranging from financial institutions to major manufacturing concerns.

All of Scotland’s universities have links with South African universities and many schools and colleges have established links.

Many South African performers participate annually in the Edinburgh Festivals and other cultural events throughout Scotland.

Scotland has a special relationship with the Eastern Cape Province arising from the historical connections with Lovedale, other mission schools and Fort Hare University. This special relationship continues today. Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) Scotland runs a Book Appeal in association with the UK charity, Community HEART, and more than 2.5 million books have been shipped to South Africa since 1994. All of the books from Scotland go to schools and libraries in the Eastern Cape.

The numerous links between Scotland and South Africa continue to deepen, develop and grow in a mutually beneficial way.  Please contact me if you have an interest in furthering these positive links.