2018 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
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.
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
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