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Nelson Mandela: A Resource Guide

A resource guide for researchers interested in exploring Special Collections rich collection of Nelson Mandela resources.

Mandela Day 2018 | Centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela

Mandela centenary logo2018 marks the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela who has become a symbol of moral authority and social justice. Mandela Day acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for racial equality in South Africa and his advocacy of a culture of reconciliation.

Nelson Mandela taught us a vital lesson when he navigated a peaceful end to apartheid: it is possible to be a great politician and a great human being at the same time; that showing respect to friends and enemies alike can get you a long way; that nothing beats the combination of magnanimity and power.– John Carlin

In the spirit of living his legacy, UCT Libraries invites you to reflect on Mandela's life through selections from our collection of archival and audio-visual material, books and posters. #Mandela100

Physical Exhibition | Chancellor Oppenheimer Library

New Book Release

Photo Gallery | The Honorary Degree Ceremony of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela signing the register before the graduation ceremony at which the University of Cape Town conferred an honorary doctorate on him, 30 November 1990

Nelson Mandela during the graduation ceremony at which the University of Cape Town conferred an honorary doctorate on him, 30 November 1990, together with the Vice-Chancellor Prof Stuart Saunders.

General view of the stage and audience at the specially arranged graduation ceremony on the rugby fields of the campus of the University of Cape Town at which the university conferred an honorary doctorate on Nelson Mandela, 30 November 1990

UCT awards an honorary doctorate to Nelson Mandela

UCT conferred an honorary doctorate to Nelson Mandela at a specially-arranged ceremony on the rugby fields in front of the oldest buildings on the upper campus on Friday 30 November 1990.

At the ceremony in his speech recommending the award, the University Orator Prof JVO Reid stated:

At home, more than anyone else in our history, Mr Mandela symbolizes the struggle on the part of the disenfranchised majority of South Africans for full democratic participation in a non-apartheid South Africa. He has become a living legend, in whom the values of non-racialism are embodied.

Madiba remembered | A University of Cape Town production directed by Mark J. Kaplan

This poignant documentary captures Nelson Mandela - the man and the icon - through the recollections of University of Cape Town's alumni and current generation. Madiba Remembered draws on the memories of visual artist Lionel Davis who was a fellow prisoner on Robben Island, and internationally acclaimed cartoonist Zapiro (Jonathan Shapiro) as well as UCT Special Collections' vast archive of Mandela memorabilia comprising films, books, posters, photographs and cartoons. Key and diverse voices in this film range from Vice Chancellor Dr Max Price, Professor Njabulo S. Ndebele, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo, and current undergraduates. Propelled by the brilliant live performance of South African musician, Vusi Mahlasela, at the UCT Nelson Mandela Memorial Concert, the film is humorous, upbeat and at times, surprising. The film sets out to document Mandela and his links to UCT. Request Online

Greeting cards written by Nelson Mandela in 1989

Front cover of birthday card written by Nelson Mandela in 1989

Front cover: Greeting card written by Nelson Mandela in 1989

Greeting cards written by Nelson Mandela, 1989

Prof HW van der Merwe was head of the Centre for Intergroup Studies at the University of Cape Town and a pioneer of conflict resolution in South Africa. He and his wife Marietjie forged a supportive friendship with both Nelson and Winnie Mandela in the 1980s and were allowed to visit them. Van der Merwe was known as “HW” by his friends and Nelson Mandela called him “Harvey”. The original letters from both Mandelas in the HW van der Merwe Papers are kept in Special Collections of UCT Libraries.

These greeting cards written by Nelson Mandela to Marietjie van der Merwe from the Victor Verster Prison (with postal address Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison) show his appreciation of the support and assistance given to his family by the Van der Merwes and his affection for Marietjie.

Based on sources in BC1148 HW van der Merwe Papers, Special Collections, UCT Libraries and HW van der Merwe’s memoirs Peacemaking in South Africa: A Life in Conflict Resolution (2000).    

Inside the Greeting card written by Nelson Mandela in 1989

Inside: Greeting card written by Nelson Mandela in 1989

Greeting cards written by Nelson Mandela, 1989

Prof HW van der Merwe was head of the Centre for Intergroup Studies at the University of Cape Town and a pioneer of conflict resolution in South Africa. He and his wife Marietjie forged a supportive friendship with both Nelson and Winnie Mandela in the 1980s and were allowed to visit them. Van der Merwe was known as “HW” by his friends and Nelson Mandela called him “Harvey”. The original letters from both Mandelas in the HW van der Merwe Papers are kept in Special Collections of UCT Libraries.

These greeting cards written by Nelson Mandela to Marietjie van der Merwe from the Victor Verster Prison (with postal address Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison) show his appreciation of the support and assistance given to his family by the Van der Merwes and his affection for Marietjie.

Based on sources in BC1148 HW van der Merwe Papers, Special Collections, UCT Libraries and HW van der Merwe’s memoirs Peacemaking in South Africa: A Life in Conflict Resolution (2000).    

Envelope, front: Greeting card written by Nelson Mandela in 1989

Greeting cards written by Nelson Mandela, 1989

Prof HW van der Merwe was head of the Centre for Intergroup Studies at the University of Cape Town and a pioneer of conflict resolution in South Africa. He and his wife Marietjie forged a supportive friendship with both Nelson and Winnie Mandela in the 1980s and were allowed to visit them. Van der Merwe was known as “HW” by his friends and Nelson Mandela called him “Harvey”. The original letters from both Mandelas in the HW van der Merwe Papers are kept in Special Collections of UCT Libraries.

These greeting cards written by Nelson Mandela to Marietjie van der Merwe from the Victor Verster Prison (with postal address Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison) show his appreciation of the support and assistance given to his family by the Van der Merwes and his affection for Marietjie.

Based on sources in BC1148 HW van der Merwe Papers, Special Collections, UCT Libraries and HW van der Merwe’s memoirs Peacemaking in South Africa: A Life in Conflict Resolution (2000).    

Envelope, back: Greeting card written by Nelson Mandela in 1989

Envelope, back: Greeting card written by Nelson Mandela in 1989

Greeting cards written by Nelson Mandela, 1989

Prof HW van der Merwe was head of the Centre for Intergroup Studies at the University of Cape Town and a pioneer of conflict resolution in South Africa. He and his wife Marietjie forged a supportive friendship with both Nelson and Winnie Mandela in the 1980s and were allowed to visit them. Van der Merwe was known as “HW” by his friends and Nelson Mandela called him “Harvey”. The original letters from both Mandelas in the HW van der Merwe Papers are kept in Special Collections of UCT Libraries.

These greeting cards written by Nelson Mandela to Marietjie van der Merwe from the Victor Verster Prison (with postal address Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison) show his appreciation of the support and assistance given to his family by the Van der Merwes and his affection for Marietjie.

Based on sources in BC1148 HW van der Merwe Papers, Special Collections, UCT Libraries and HW van der Merwe’s memoirs Peacemaking in South Africa: A Life in Conflict Resolution (2000).    

Pamphlet | Citation and Speech for the Honorary Graduation of Nelson Rolihlhla Mandela

A note by Archivist Clive Kirkwood, UCT Special Collections

Noteworthy points from Stuart Saunders’ book Vice-Chancellor on a Tightrope: A personal account of climactic years in South Africa

UCT had decided to honour Nelson Mandela by conferring an honorary doctorate on him while he was still a prisoner, and wrote to him on 8 December 1989 before there was any inkling of his imminent release.

Four weeks before Mr Mandela’s release, the Minister of Justice privately requested that UCT should delay the award and not make the matter public. UCT however released a statement announcing the award, and stated that it hoped “he would be free to accept the award in person”.

On 2 February 1990, in his speech at the opening of Parliament, President FW de Klerk took the world by surprise by announcing sweeping reforms commencing a negotiated constitutional transition, including the unbanning of the ANC and other political organisations, and the release of political prisoners including Nelson Mandela, and the end of the state of emergency. Mr Mandela was released from prison on 11 February.    

Given Mr Mandela’s programme thereafter, it was understandably not easy to set a convenient date for the award. Mr Mandela received the honorary degree at a specially arranged ceremony on the rugby fields in front of the oldest buildings on the upper campus on Friday 30 November 1990.  

- Clive Kirkwood, UCT Special Collections