Mr Nelson Mandela: International Patron
Nelson Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 into the royal family of the Thembu, a Xhosa-speaking tribe which nestles in a fertile valley in the Eastern Cape. There in the family kraal of white washed huts, the young boy spent a happy and sheltered childhood, and listened eagerly to the stirring tales of the tribal elders. His Xhosa name, Rolihlahla, has the colloquial and rather prophetic meaning “trouble-maker”, and he only received his more familiar English name, Nelson, on his first day at Healdtown, a British colonial boarding school.
Released on February 11, 1990, Mr Mandela plunged wholeheartedly into his
life's work, striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost
four decades earlier. In 1991, at the first national conference of the ANC
held inside South Africa after being banned for decades, Nelson Mandela was
elected President of the ANC while his lifelong friend and colleague, Oliver
Tambo, became the organisation’s National Chairperson.
In a life that symbolises the triumph of the human spirit, Nelson Mandela accepted the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize (along with FW de Klerk) on behalf of all South Africans who suffered and sacrificed so much to bring peace to our land.
The era of apartheid formally came to an end on the April 27, 1994, when Nelson Mandela voted for the first time in his life – along with his people. However, long before that date it had become clear, even before the start of negotiations at the World Trade Centre in Kempton Park, that the ANC was increasingly charting the future of South Africa.
Rolihlahla Nelson Dalibunga Mandela was inaugurated as President of a democratic South Africa on May 10, 1994. In his inauguration speech he said:
“We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free. Their dreams have become reality. Freedom is their reward. We are both humbled and elevated by the honour and privilege that you, the people of South Africa, have bestowed on us, as the first President of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist government.
“We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom. We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success. We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world. Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfil themselves. Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign.”
Mr Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one term as President – but for him there has been no real retirement. He set up three foundations bearing his name: The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and The Mandela-Rhodes Foundation. Until very recently his schedule has been relentless. But during this period he has had the love and support of his large family – including his wife Graça Machel, whom he married on his 80th birthday in 1998.
Involvement with UniSA
On 1 August 2001 the Vice Chancellor, Professor Denise Bradley, AO, formally announced that Mr Nelson Mandela had accepted the role of international patron of the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre. While Prime Minister, The Hon Bob Hawke was strongly critical of the apartheid laws of South Africa. Mr Mandela saw the actions of Bob Hawke against the apartheid regime, and especially through his influence upon the Commonwealth Heads of Government as critical to his release from prison after 27 years. He visited Bob Hawke shortly after his release to explain his view on that. Hence his later association with the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, and a source of great pride to all concerned.
While President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela was awarded a University of South Australia doctorate by the former Chancellor the Honourable Dr Basil Hetzel AC in a ceremony at the University of Fort Hare, South Africa in April 1998. This award recognised President Mandela's commitment to empowerment through education.
Additional information: Nelson Mandela Foundation web site