AT THE end of his speech on a historic day in Glasgow, Nelson Mandela listened to South African singer Mara Louw sing a Sowetan pop song.

It was a hit with the crowd – and Mandela, who was 75 at the time, started to dance.

“It was a wonderful display of genuine humanity and unabashed fun, qualities which are all too rare in the austere ranks of the world’s great statesmen,” reported our sister newspaper The Herald.

Glasgow Times: Nelson Mandela

On this day 28 years ago, October 9, 1993, Mandela arrived in Glasgow to thank its people for bestowing upon him Freedom of the City.

Glasgow was the first city in the world to grant him the honour, when they announced it in 1986.

Mandela had been in prison at the time, and now that he was finally free, he wanted to thank all who had supported him.

Glasgow Times: Nelson Mandela in Glasgow, October 9, 1993

“He did not smile; he positively beamed,” wrote The Herald.

“His eye, no longer haunted by his years in prison, sparkled with mischief and humour. The moment had been a long time coming. But here it was. Mandela was with them at last.”

The political activist and lawyer was famously imprisoned on Robben island for 18 of the 27 years he served before the fall of apartheid.

He was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and was elected in 1994 as President of South Africa, becoming the country’s first Black president.

Around 10,000 people turned up to hear Mandela speak in George Square in the rain – just along the road from Nelson Mandela Place, which had been named in his honour by Glasgow City Council.

(It was the location of the South African consulate, and there were protests about the move, with one Conservative politician declaring it a ‘terrifying, irresponsible decision’ which would ‘make Glasgow a laughing stock’. Some businesses refused to acknowledge the name change.)

Mandela’s stirring speech in Glasgow was met with rapturous applause from the crowds.

“The people of Glasgow were the first in the world to confer on me the Freedom of the City at a time when I and my comrades in the ANC were imprisoned on Robben Island serving life sentences which, in apartheid South Africa, then meant imprisonment until death,” he said.

“You, the people of Glasgow, pledged that you would not relax until I was free to receive this honour in person. I am deeply grateful to you and the anti-apartheid movement in Scotland for all your efforts to this end.”

In 2011, a commemorative plaque was unveiled by anti-apartheid activist Professor Denis Goldberg at Glasgow City Chambers, marking the 30th anniversary of Mandela’s Freedom of the City award.

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Mandela’s last visit to Glasgow was in June 2002, when he came to Barlinnie prison for a private meeting with Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

Mandela cast doubt on Megrahi’s conviction, describing his imprisonment as “psychological persecution.”

It was the statesman’s final visit to Scotland. He died in 2013.