Nelosn Mandela Book Gifting Drive

18th July, 2014  

What are you doing for

your 67 minutes?

Nelson book




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 ACTSA Scotland (Action for Southern Africa) is asking 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.

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in good condition, please – no loose or taped up pages, or badly damaged covers, and factual books should not be too out of date.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

On and around 18th July a number of collection points in towns and cities across Scotland will again be open to receive donations of books, including public libraries in Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Renfrewshire, some trade union premises, and the office of Cathy Jamieson, MP at 32 Grange St., Kilmarnock KA1 2DD. Offers of premises for further collection points are welcome.  Check the website or contact ACTSA Scotland at the addresses below to ask about these locations, or to make other arrangements for your books to be delivered or collected.

Nelson Mandela International Day.  In 2012 ACTSA Scotland, the Scottish Government, the Scottish TUC and Glasgow City Council joined forces to hold the first celebration of Mandela Day in Scotland, including dispatching ACTSA Scotland’s ninth container-load of books from George Square in Glasgow.

            In 2013 and again in 2014 those same bodies have linked up with others to widen the scope of the Day in Scotland. Voluntary organisations of all kinds are inviting old and new supporters to carry out voluntary work that day, in their own particular fields. The 67 minutes figure is a reflection of Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of service before his final retirement from public life. There is, of course, no compulsion to stop work at the end of 67 minutes – nor to serve only on this day!

            ACTSA Scotland’s appeal is for help with gathering books for South Africa, but we are glad to encourage voluntary service of all kinds, through any organisation or none, and with or without any connection with South Africa.

The Book Appeal.  ACTSA Scotland has been collecting and sorting books for school libraries in Eastern Cape since 1995, and has sent some 450,000 so far. The donated books are sorted and packed in the basement of Hillhead Library in Glasgow (thanks to the hospitality of Glasgow Life) and stored there until roughly 1000 boxes are ready to fill a container. As well as donated books, help with sorting and packing is always welcome, as are offers of help with fetching books from donors across Scotland, or with fundraising for the shipping costs.

            ACTSA Scotland co-operates closely with Community HEART, a Manchester-based charity which gathers books from all over the U.K. for all parts of South Africa. It was founded by Denis Goldberg, a colleague of Mandela.

ACTSA Scotland.   ACTSA Scotland (Action for Southern Africa) is the successor organisation to the Anti-Apartheid Movement Scottish Committee, which was deeply involved in the campaign for freedom in South Africa and for the release of Nelson Mandela during his long years in prison for fighting apartheid. We were glad to help bring him to Scotland in 1993.

            Since 1994 we have worked for solidarity between Scotland and Southern Africa through creating links of all kinds, of which the Book Appeal is one practical example. We have a particular connection with Eastern Cape.

            Sponsored walks in Eastern Cape in support of community organisations there, selling crafts on a small scale from community producers in Southern Africa, campaigning for democracy in Swaziland and Zimbabwe and for justice for South African miners with silicosis, and meetings and lectures on where South Africa has come from, are all part of ACTSA Scotland’s work.

For more information about any of the above, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., see our website at or write to ACTSA Scotland, 52, St. Enoch Square, Glasgow G1 4AA

(Please don't bring books to this small unstaffed office – Contact us first.)

English Chinese (Simplified) French German Italian Polish Romanian Spanish Urdu