Banknotes and Coin Celebrate Mandela’s Centenary

Has South Africa recognized its greatest asset, its people, Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter, Ndileka Mandela, asked on 13 July at the South African Reserve Bank’s official launch of a set of banknotes commemorating Nelson Mandela.

The banknotes are the first set of commemorative notes the Reserve Bank has released in its 100-year history, and were released just ahead of what would have been Mandela’s 100th birthday on 18 July.

Banknotes are a store of value, she said. “What are the reserves of value we offer as a nation? … What are the core values of our nation, really?”

She urged that the banknotes’ launch be used by South Africans as a pivot from which to launch a “nation that reflects the values Nelson Mandela lived for”, and listed these as including compassion, ethics and good morals, courage, learning and education, honesty, sincerity and generosity.

“Let us honour Nelson Mandela’s legacy by living our own legacy of prosperity,” she said.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has repeatedly called on South Africans to commit to building “a values-based society” in which everyone is cared for and poverty is eradicated.

“There is such a rich history to Nelson Mandela’s life that the South African Reserve Bank had to use the full range of denominations, and a R5 circulation coin to depict it all,” said Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago at the launch.

The R10 banknote commemorates Madiba’s birthplace of Mvezo in the Eastern Cape, while the R20 banknote features Mandela’s Soweto home, where he defined his political life.

The R50 banknote depicts the site where Madiba was captured near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal in 1962 following 17 months in hiding. This was his last day of freedom for 27 years.

The 100 banknote reflects on Mandela’s 27-year imprisonment – most of it on Robben Island – while the inspiration for the R200 banknote comes from the moment Madiba greeted the nation for the first time as President.

A member of the public viewing a display of the set of banknotes commemorating Nelson Mandela’s centenary. (Image: NMF)

The commemorative R5 circulation coin features a portrait of Madiba.

The notes and the R5 coin went into circulation on 13 July. They are a limited edition of more than 400-million notes.

The bank also released a digital application (app) that explains the banknotes’ top-notch security features, plus their designs. It is available on the Apple iStore and the Google Play Store.

Nelson Mandela Foundation Chief Executive Sello Hatang said he hopes Mandela’s life story will always be one that fosters social inclusiveness. The Foundation’s commemoration of Mandela’s centenary is focused on three themes that ask South Africans to “find the Madiba in you”, “be the legacy” and “build a values-based society”.

Kganyago said Nelson Mandela had touched “South Africans from all walks of life – rural and urban. What could be more fitting than to commemorate his life through an instrument that we all use every day,” he said at the launch.

The launch was also attended by Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, Absa Group CEO Maria Ramos, Governor of the Central Bank of Lesotho Retselisitsoe Matlanyane and Bank of Botswana Governor Moses Pelaelo.

A member of the public looks at the security features embedded in the South African Reserve Bank’s set of banknotes commemorating Nelson Mandela in his centennial year.
(Image: Nelson Mandela Foundation)