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ACTSA Scotland was formed in December 1994 as the Scottish Section of the national organisation Action for Southern Africa and works to develop solidarity between Scotland and all the states of the Southern Africa Development Community. As the successor organisation to the Scottish Anti-Apartheid Movement our closest links are with South Africa and in particular with the Eastern Cape Province with which Scotland has had a particularly strong historic connection.

In addition to individual ACTSA members and supporters a range of organisations are involved in the work of ACTSA Scotland, including church and religious organisations, trade unions, international support groups, local authorities and schools.

One of ACTSA Scotland's key areas of work is to develop direct contact between individuals and organisations in Scotland and Southern Africa. Links have been established between several organisations and this has led to some very helpful connections, including exchange visits and other contacts which have helped to build relationships. One significant example is the link between Glasgow City Council,  Amathole District Municipality and Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality.

Arising from this interest in links with Eastern Cape, two major areas of work are the collecting and sorting of books to send to school libraries in the Province, and the arrangement from time to time of sponsored walks on the Wild Coast with visits to the inspiring organisations for which the Walks raise very modest funds.   For more information on these click the links below.

ACTSA also works for peace, democracy, reconstruction and development in Southern Africa, and  to increase knowledge and understanding in Scotland of that region, including the legacies of apartheid and its widespread destructive consequences.


Nelson Mandela International Day 2014    This year's Mandela Day in Scotland saw more and bigger events and activity than ever, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Games and others.   A separate website has been set up for the Day in Scotland at   Check there for information about events that happened in Scotland to mark the Day.   For pictures of the ceremony in Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow, see ACTSA Scotland's Twitter page at   You don't need a Twitter account to view the page.  

Nelson Mandela International Day  2013

                                   Books for Children in South Africa – Can you help?

            The United Nations has designated Nelson Mandela’s birthday every 18th July as Nelson Mandela International Day, when people throughout the world are encouraged to give 67 minutes of voluntary service to the community in whatever way they choose, to help change the world for the better.  
            On that date in 2013 ACTSA Scotland asked people to use their 67 minutes to sort out and bring us children’s books to be sent to school libraries in Nelson Mandela’s home Province of Eastern Cape, with which Scotland has a particular link.  The Book Appeal has been running since 1995, and has sent nine container-loads so far.
            Trade union and other offices from Kilmarnock to Dundee to Inverness, as well as all Glasgow City libraries, accepted donations of books on and around that day.                
             What were (and are) requested were 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.

For more information see the Book Appeal page  

 Inaugural Nelson Mandela International Day in Scotland - 18th July, 2012.  

Container-load of books sent to school libraries in South Africa.

     9 tonnes of books in 1000 boxes were moved up two flights of steps at Hillhead Library, Glasgow, to load a container and send it on its way to school libraries in Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Some 45 volunteers trolleyed the boxes the length of the library basement, and then passed them hand-to-hand along a chain of people up the stairs and across the car-park to the lane behind, the nearest point accessible for such a large lorry.   Such was the speed of working that the whole job was completed in two hours, half the time expected. 

    Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and South African High Commissioner H.E. Zola Skweyiya came to thank the volunteers and to hear a bit about how ACTSA Scotland's Book Appeal is organised. The First Minister took the opportunity to announce in a television news interview his intention to carry out 67 minutes of voluntary service as a guide in a country park in his home county of Aberdeenshire.

    On the initiative of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, the Scottish Government and ACTSA Scotland, this year saw the first marking of Nelson Mandela Day in Scotland. Recognised both in South Africa and internationally since 2009, Nelson Mandela's birthday has been declared a focus for community service of all kinds.  In South Africa public figures are encouraged to join the wider community in 67 minutes of voluntary work to mark the 67 years that Nelson Mandela spent in public service - including the 27 years he served in prison for opposing apartheid.  67 minutes is not a maximum limit.

    The intention is to make observance of Mandela Day an annual event in Scotland.  For this first year, our container was sent off from George Square that afternoon in a brief ceremony by the High Commissioner, the Scottish Local Government Minister Derek Mackay, and STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith, and this was followed by a reception hosted by Glasgow City Council.  That morning, while the container was being loaded, the High Commissioner attended a seminar on Scottish/South African links on renewable energy and on carbon capture and storage, hosted by the Scottish Government Energy Minister Fergus Ewing.   The Jabulani Project in Edinburgh marked the Day with a fundraising social event that evening.

    A steering committee has been established to plan how best to mark Mandela Day in future years.

    This is the ninth container sent from Scotland since our Book Appeal project began in 1995. For more information see the Book Appeal page 

    Financial contributions towards the cost of sending the container would be really helpful.  The cost is around 3500.  Donations can be sent to ACTSA Scotland, 52, St. Enoch Square, Glasgow G1 4AA.    If you would like to see this as sponsoring the cost of boxes, the cost per box is about 3.50 - so 10 boxes would be 35.

    For more information on Mandela Day in South Africa and internationally see

    For a video message from Archbishop Desmond Tutu about Mandela Day in Scotland, and a Scottish Government news release on the subject see

    The Scottish Television News report (text and video) of the event can be found at

    Some photographs taken by ACTSA Scotland's Brian Purdie of the Day can be found in Picasa albums at  and  


This site is dedicated to the memory of Colin Anderson (3 July 1952 - 9 January 1999)
Colin worked to put together this site right up until his untimely death in January 1999.