World Stamps

South Africa remembers Mandela on a new souvenir sheet

Feb 14, 2014, 11 AM

South Africa issued a souvenir sheet Feb. 11 remembering Nelson Mandela as a global icon.

Several previous South African stamps honor Mandela, including one released just a little more than a week before his death Dec. 5, 2013, at age 95.

The Feb. 11 issue date of the souvenir sheet coincides with the 24th anniversary of Mandela’s release from prison Feb. 11, 1990, after 27 years of incarceration.

Four years later, on May 10, 1994, Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president and its first democratically elected president.

The souvenir sheet, shown in Figure 1, contains a single nondenominated “Standard Postage” stamp showing an elderly Mandela.

In the press release announcing the sheet, the post office said it was “printed in silver to reflect the richness of Mandela’s wisdom, his legacy and his stature...”

The press release also sums up his life: “In Nelson Mandela’s 95 years he accomplished what many thought impossible. Held prisoner for 27 years and later becoming South Africa’s first democratically elected president, he practiced reflection, negotiation, forgiveness, reconciliation and incredible perseverance, making him one of the most remarkable and respected individuals of modern times.”

The South Africa Post Office is selling the sheet in a souvenir folder at a cost of 50 rand. The sheet is not available separately.

For each sheet sold, the post office will donate 2r to the Nelson Mandela Foundation for use in building libraries as part of the Mandela Day literacy project.

Thea Clemons designed the souvenir sheet using a photograph supplied by the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Joh. Enschede of the Netherlands printed it by offset in a quantity of 5 million.

Three South African stamps issued in 2013 are related to Mandela.

The most recent of these is in a booklet commemorating the Rivonia trial of 1963-64.

This prestige booklet includes 12 panes of stamps, plus text and photographs. It originally was scheduled to be issued July 11, but its release was delayed until Nov. 26.

The first paragraph in the booklet stresses the importance of the trial: “The Rivonia Trial was a landmark event in South Africa’s history. Often referred to as ‘the trial that changed South Africa,’ it set off a chain of events that eventually ended apartheid and rang in democracy and freedom from oppression.”

Each of the 12 members of the African National Congress accused under the 1962 Sabotage Act is shown on a stamp in a separate pane in the booklet. Mandela received a life sentence. The stamp pane featuring him is pictured in Figure 2.

The booklet also contains panes of stamps picturing Ahmed Kathrada, Andrew Mlangeni, Arthur Goldreich, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motosoaledi, Govan Mbeki, Harold Wolpe, James Kantor, Lionel “Rusty” Bernstein, Raymond Mhlaba and Walter Sislu.

Goldreich and Wolpe escaped before the trial.

All of the stamps in the Rivonia Trial booklet are nondenominated, paying the standard postage rate.

The other two 2013 stamps related to Mandela are registered mail stamps issued July 26 in a pane of 10 marking the 100th anniversary of the city of Port Elizabeth (Scott F2).

One stamp depicts the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium built for the 2010 World Cup Soccer Championships hosted by South Africa.

The other stamp, pictured in Figure 3, shows a sculpture of Mandela at Donkin Reserve.

This laser-cut silhouette figure is part of a larger sculpture group created by Anthony Harris and Konrad Geel.

Called The Voting Line, this work represents and connects the lines of voters in South Africa’s first democratic elections.

South Africa first pictured Mandela on a 45¢ stamp issued May 10, 1994, to celebrate his inauguration (Scott 882), on that day.

The set includes three other stamps featuring the anthem, the flag and the governmental complex in Pretoria known as Union Buildings.

The recipient of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, Mandela was included on a pane of 10 stamps issued Nov. 4, 1996, commemorating South African Nobel laureates (Scott 955i).

He became a knight in the Order of St. John in 1996 and appeared on a 1999 souvenir sheet honoring the 900th anniversary of the order (Scott 1122).

In 2001, South Africa issued a booklet of 10 airmail stamps and two postcards called the “Many Faces of Nelson Mandela” (Scott C56).

His 90th birth anniversary was celebrated on two souvenir sheets released July 15, 2008 (Scott 1380-1381).

The website of South Africa’s post office is The mailing address is South African Post Office, Philatelic Services, Private Bag X505, Pretoria 0001, South Africa.