Books for Children in South Africa - Can You Help?

In Scotland this Mandela Day (2015) we will be sending off a shipping container with 9 tonnes of books for school libraries in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province. These all need to be loaded into the container on:

Mandela Day, Sat. 18th July 10am Rear entrance to Hillhead Library, Burgh Lane, Glasgow. (Front entrance is on Byres Road.)

Can you help with loading? We expect it to last about 2 hours if we can get 50 volunteers.

There will then be a formal send-off from the front of Glasgow City Chambers at 2pm that day, at which all are welcome.

Please use the contact form to let us know you can help.

More Books?

ACTSA Scotland (Action for Southern Africa) has been collecting and sorting chidren's books for school libraries in Eastern Cape since 1995, and has sent some 450,000 in nine containers so far. This container will be our tenth, and bring the total sent from Scotland to half a million. More books are still welcome.

What are needed are children’s books of all kinds, in English, to encourage reading for fun. This helps to develop fluency in reading English which is vital for all parts of the children’s education. (Their mother tongue is mainly Xhosa, but education is mostly in English). Story books or factual books, for all ages from pre-school to teenagers, are welcome – Books that will amuse, absorb, inform and catch the imagination of young readers.

They must be in good condition, please – no loose or taped up pages, or badly damaged covers, and factual books should not be too out of date.

Any help with the cost of shipping the books to South Africa would also be very welcome – A container holds 1000 boxes, costing £3.50 each to send.

Collection points

Books can be handed in at the following places up until 18th July (and preferably earlier).

Seven Glasgow public libraries - Cardonald, Dennistoun, Hillhead, Langside, Maryhill, Mitchell and Shettleston.

The offices of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, 333, Woodlands Road, Glasgow

We are grateful to Hillhead Library in Glasgow for giving space for sorting, packing and storing books, and to Stanford Logistics in Hamilton for storage. Please use the contact form to ask for any more information

About Us

Nelson Mandela International Day in Scotland is organised by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) Scotland with the support of the Scottish Government, the Scottish Trades Union Congress, Glasgow City Council and other organisations. ACTSA Scotland is the successor organisation of the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

The Nelson Mandela International Day Planning Group is convened and chaired by Brian Filling, Honorary Consul for South Africa and Chair, ACTSA Scotland and its meetings are hosted by the Scottish Government in one of their offices.


In 2008 ACTSA Scotland held activities to mark Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday. A container of some 50,000 books was sent to schools and libraries in the Eastern Cape and a birthday party was held in Glasgow City Chambers, hosted by the Lord Provost.

In 2009 the United Nations designated 18 July as the annual Nelson Mandela International Day. People and organisations were encouraged on the Day to devote 67 minutes of voluntary activity to mark the 67 years which Nelson Mandela gave in public service.


A video message was sent by Archbishop Desmond Tutu welcoming the initiative by ACTSA Scotland and the Scottish Government to mark Nelson Mandela International Day. On the Day the Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Fergus Ewing, hosted a seminar on Renewable Energy and Carbon Capture. The seminar was attended by business, academics and civil servants and a number of presentations were delivered for the South African High Commissioner, Dr Zola Skweyiya and the Honorary Consul for South Africa, Brian Filling.

2012 Mandela day ScotlandThe seminar was held in the morning at the same time as books were being packed into a container to be sent to South Africa. The Scottish Government First Minister, Alex Salmond, the South African High Commissioner and Honorary Consul attended the book packing by ACTSA Scotland volunteers. In the afternoon the container of books was sent off from George Square, the main square in Glasgow.

In the evening a Reception was hosted by the Lord Provost of the City of Glasgow in the City Chambers. Speeches were given by the Deputy Lord Provost, Councillor Gerry Leonard; the South African High Commissioner, Dr Zola Skweyiya; the General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, Grahame Smith; the Scottish Government Local Government Minister, Derek Mackay and the Honorary Consul for South Africa, Brian Filling.

A Planning Group for Mandela Day 2013 was established by ACTSA Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Government, the Scottish Trade Union Congress and Glasgow City Council. The Honorary Consul convened meetings of the Planning Group, ACTSA Scotland acted as the secretariat and the meetings were hosted by the Scottish Government in one of their offices.

Book Collection Points for ACTSA Scotland’s Book Appeal were established throughout Scotland, many in trade union premises, facilitated by the STUC. General voluntary activity was encouraged on the Day.

A Reception was hosted in the evening by the Lord Provost of Glasgow and speeches were given by the Deputy Lord Provost, Councillor Gerry Leonard, the South African High Commissioner, Dr Zola Skweyiya, the Scottish Government Minister for External Affairs, Humza Yousaf, the President of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, Harry Frew and the Honorary Consul for South Africa, Brian Filling. Following the Reception, a concert was held in the Banqueting Hall of the City Chambers. Performances were given by the Eurydice Choir, Tiwona Sithole, Suzanne Bonnar and Arthur Johnstone and the Star Band. A ceilidh followed the concert with music provided by George Reid and his band.

The Nelson Mandela International Day Planning Group was re-convened shortly after Mandela Day 2013 to plan for Mandela Day 2014. As the Commonwealth Games were to be held in Glasgow in 2014 the Planning Group’s composition was extended to involve other organisations including Glasgow2014, Glasgow Life and Creative Scotland. Organisations involved in the voluntary sector also joined the Planning Group to encourage wider and more general volunteer involvement as well as participation in ACTSA Scotland’s Book Appeal.

Nelson Mandela International Day in 2014 immediately preceded the Opening of the Commonwealth Games Cultural Programme on 19th July, and the Opening of the Games on 23rd July.

The South African-UK Seasons 2014-2015 cultural programme gave its support to Nelson Mandela International Day in Scotland.

Programme of Events

  • Fri

    Crossing Countries Fundraising Ceilidh

    19:30 - 23:30Columcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace, Edinburgh EH10 4RT

    Following the success of their first South Africa trip in 2014, Crossing Countries, a project which enables disabled students to volunteer abroad, will be travelling to Durban again this summer with a group of volunteer travellers and travel pals.

    You are warmly invited to the Crossing Countries Fundraising Ceilidh this Friday 3rd July (19:30-23:30) at the Columcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace, Edinburgh EH10 4RT.

    Tickets are £10 and available at the door. For more information see

  • Sat

    Book Container Send-off

    2:00 pmFront of City Chambers, Glasgow

    The formal send-off of the book container will be from the front of the City Chambers at 2pm, followed by a reception in the Chambers with some speeches and a young jazz band.

    If you would like to attend the reception please let us know so that we can give the Council a reasonably accurate estimate of numbers.

    We would be glad to hear from anyone able to help with loading the book container on Mandela Day (approx. 10am - 12 noon at back door of Hillhead Library, Burgh Lane, Glasgow). Offers to help make sandwiches and look after teas and coffees for the volunteers in the Hillhead basement would also be very welcome.

  • Mandela Day in Ayr

    2:00 pmHoly Trinity Church, Fullarton Street, Ayr

    The local ACTSA group in Ayrshire are holding a celebration coffee afternoon on Sat. 18th July in Holy Trinity
    Church, Fullarton Street, Ayr at 2pm, with the support of some other organisations.

    For more information contact Arthur West at


  • Fri

    Ceremony in Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow

    1.30 - 2.30pmMandela Place, Glasgow

    Ceremony in Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow, to remember and celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela, with the Lord Provost, and South African guests, including Tukwini Mandela and the Mzansi choir.

    Mr Brian Filling, ACTSA Scotland Chair and Honorary Consul for South Africa said,

    “Glasgow was the first city in the world to honour Mandela with the Freedom of the City. It is fitting - just seven months after millions around the world mourned his death - that we reflect on and celebrate his life and legacy in the Glasgow street that bears his name.

    We are delighted that Tukwini Mandela can be with us in Glasgow on Mandela Day, her grandfather’s day.

    During our ribbon tying event guests will tie to the railings of St. George's Tron Church in Nelson Mandela Place ribbons in the colours of the flag of the new democratic South Africa which Mandela fought to bring about and was elected its first President in 1994."

  • Mass book gifting for children’s libraries in South Africa

    11am - 3pmMitchell Library, Granville St., Glasgow

    Mass book gifting for children’s libraries in South Africa, at the Mitchell Library, Granville St., Glasgow.
    (For other book donation arrangements see "Book Appeal" below)

  • Video Screening of Nelson Mandela's visit in 1993

    12noon - 6pmGeorge Square, Glasgow

    Large video screen in George Square, Glasgow, showing continuous footage of Nelson Mandela’s visit in 1993 to receive the Freedom of Glasgow and of eight other UK local authorities. The screen will face the war memorial and City Chambers, with its back to the Walter Scott monument.

  • Jabulani Project Annual Mandela Day Celebration

    7:30 pmColumcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace, Edinburgh Napier University Morningside Campus, Edinburgh EH10 4RT

    The Jabulani Project in Edinburgh is holding its annual Mandela Day celebration. An evening of song, dance and food with an open mic session. Doors open 7.30 pm, food served 8.00pm. Last dance 11.30pm. Ticket: Donation on door (£10.00) includes excellent choice of food and drink. or

  • Nelson Mandela International Day Celebration

    8:00 pmKelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow, G3 8AG

    The headline artist is Hugh Masekela but there will be a number of others, including Complete, the Mzansi Youth Choir from South Africa and others from Scotland and South Africa. Tickets are £16 each (including booking fee).

    See for more information and a link to the Glasgow Life online booking service.

  • Mandela Day Concert at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival

    8:00 pmFestival Theatre, Edinburgh, EH8 9FT

    On 18th July Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival opens in the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh with a special programme to mark Mandela Day, with Abdullah Ibrahim, Freshlyground and the Mahotella Queens. Tickets cost from £22.50 to £37.50, including booking fee, from

  • Mandela Day with Fantasma & Auntie Flo

    22:00 - 03:00The Arches, 253, Argyle St., Glasgow G2 8DL

    A special one-off club event witll be held at the Arches, with Fantasma from South Africa and Auntie Flo of Highlife. The event will be jointly presented by The Arches, the British Council and Creative Scotland.

    Tickets cost £5.50 including booking fee, from

  • Sat

    Mandela Celebrations at The Hidden Gardens

    12:00 - 16:0025a Albert Drive (behind the Tramway Theatre), Glasgow, G41 2PE

    The Hidden Gardens are holding a Mandela Celebration on the 19th of July. The core of the event is to introduce folk to many of the volunteering opportunities available in the local community, and to make it easy for prospective volunteers to pledge their time in service to others and their local community, in the spirit of Nelson Mandela International Day.

    The many other activities available will include: African folk tales; massed singing; an open singing workshop; locally prepared food; an eco-recycling workshop; face-painting with a Commonwealth theme; garden tours and plant sale; children’s arts and crafts; tai chi and parachute games; an assault course and corsage-making; and performances by Govanhill Youth Project.

    Those attending are invited to bring donations of children's books for the Mandela Day book appeal.

    See for more information.

  • Sun

    Fundraising Braai in aid of Community Heart

    12:00 onwardsFife

    On Sun. 20th July at Dysart in Fife from 12 noon onwards there will be a fundraising braai (barbecue) in aid of Community HEART, a charity founded by Nelson Mandela’s colleague Denis Goldberg which funds educational and other development projects in South Africa, and with which ACTSA Scotland works closely on our joint appeal for books for school libraries there. There will be South African food, drink and music, and a variety of fund-raising activities.

    Contact Bob Bruce at for more information.

  • Mon

    Robben Island Bible Exhibition

    Mitchell Library, Glasgow

    Mon. 21st July until October. The Robben Island Bible will be on display at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. This is a copy of the complete works of Shakespeare, owned on Robben Island by a prisoner who disguised it as a volume of Hindu scriptures to avoid its confiscation. Its owner, Sonny Venkatrathnam, persuaded 32 other prisoners to sign their names against passages in the book that held particular significance for them. Those signing included Nelson Mandela and many other key figures from the liberation struggle. The owner is personally bringing the book to Glasgow, where it will be exhibited next to the “Scotland and the Commonwealth” exhibition already at the Mitchell Library.

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