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Celebrate Mandela 100 with UCT Libraries

Story Carmen Louw  Photos Courtesy of Special Collections

Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018


Display Stands

Honorary Doctorate



Mandela 100

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  #BeTheLegacy #LivingTheLegacy


Personal correspondence of Nelson Mandela




Visit the Mandela 100 display at Special Collections in Jagger Library and Main Library #BeTheLegacy


UCT’s award of honorary doctorate to 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
Honorary Degree Ceremony

Honorary Degree Ceremony Album





Right 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

Vice-Chancellor on a Tightrope: A personal account of climactic years in South Africa (2000) 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

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.


A pamphlet containing the citation and speech
delivered by University Orator Prof JVO Reid at the Honorary Graduation of Nelson Rolihlhla Mandela, as well as Nelson Mandela's speech in reply.




New Release | The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela

To be published upon the centenary of his birth, The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela  is a landmark work: the first, and only, authorized and authenticated collection of correspondence spanning the twenty-seven years Mandela was held as a political prisoner. - Penguin Random House South Africa.

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UCT Libraries Nelson Mandela Book Collection

Books available at African Studies Library & Main Library.

Browse more books via Primo








Books available at Government Publications | Level 4, Research Wing, Chancellor Oppenheimer Library

  1. Many cultures, one nation : inauguration of the President of South Africa, 10 May 1994.
  2. Invest in peace : addresses by the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Nelson Mandela, to the United Nations' General Assembly and to the Joint Houses of the Congress of the United States of America, October 1994.
  3. A time to build : addresses by the President, Mr Nelson R Mandela, at his inauguration, the opening of Parliament (May 1994) and at the OAU meeting in Tunis (June 1994).




Countdown to freedom 10 days that changed South Africa
Mandela the living legend
Mandela the man and his country
Nelson Mandela: The Journey
Mandela, long walk to freedom directed by Jason Chadwick

* Above DVDs available in the African Studies Film Collection.
Browse more Videos/DVDs via Primo

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.

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