New Issue: South Africa to commemorate Nelson Mandela on new banknotes

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) recently announced it will release a set of commemorative banknotes to mark the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.

An anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader and philanthropist, Mandela was born in July 18, 1918 in the village of Mvezo in Umtata, then part of South Africa’s Cape Province. According to Mary Benson’s 1986 book Nelson Mandela, the late South African president was given the forename “Rolihlahla”—a Xhosa term meaning “troublemaker”—but in later years became known by his clan name, Madiba.

In Mandela’s 1994 book Long Walk to Freedom Volume I: 1918–1962, he wrote: “No one in my family had ever attended school. … On the first day of school my teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave each of us an English name. This was the custom among Africans in those days and was undoubtedly due to the British bias of our education. That day, Miss Mdingane told me that my new name was Nelson. Why this particular name I have no idea.”


The SARB is slated to release 10-, 20-, 50-, 100- and 200-rand denominations as part of Mandela’s centenary celebrations.

“Nelson Mandela represented the best version of ourselves as South Africans,” said SARB Governor Lesetja Kganyago. “We unveiled the current Mandela series of banknotes in 2012 to honour him. While preserving the value of money is our main mandate, our purpose is to be a bastion of institutional strength, contributing to a stable and prosperous economy that serves the well-being of all South Africans, and guided in part by Madiba’s values.”

The South African Mint—a SARB subsidiary—will also issue a five-rand coin celebrating Mandela’s birth centenary.

Both the new banknotes and the new coins will be released on July 18, the 100th anniversary of Mandela’s birth.


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