In celebration of the centenary of former President Nelson Mandela, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) launched its first commemorative banknote series at Freedom Park on Friday morning.
South African Reserve Bank are honouring Madiba’s centenary with a series of banknotes featuring historic moments that defined who he was.
The R10 banknote represents the lush greenery of the Eastern Cape. It is also the beginning of the timeline, representing Madiba’s birth on the 18th of July 1918 in the small village of Mvezo. A portrait of a young Madiba is the central image on the reverse of all the denominations, contrary to a portrait of an older Madiba on the front.
The R20 banknote represents the brown bricks of Madiba’s home in Soweto where his political life began to take shape. As a young practising lawyer, he focused on helping and representing black clients. It was also the period during which he came into contact with young ANC members Anton Lembede and Walter Sisulu, defining characters who, together with Oliver Tambo, had set up the Congress Youth League in 1944, which drove the ANC towards more effective forms of protests.
The R50 banknote represents the red earth of the capture site at Howick and the moment in time that changed Madiba’s life forever. This is where he was arrested following 17 months in hiding. The arrest preceded a long trial during which Madiba’s commitment to his values was reinforced in his most historic speech, with him proclaiming: “It is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
The R100 banknote represents the bright blue ocean around Robben Island where Madiba was incarcerated for 18 of the 27 years he spent behind bars, and where he continued to build inner strength and determined belief in his cause. It was on Robben Island that Madiba became the figurehead of the anti-apartheid movement as protesters around the world campaigned for his release.
The R200 banknote represents the warm tones of the Union Buildings, where Madiba was inaugurated on 10 May 1994 – a moment which captivated audiences across the world and which was captured as a triumph of principles over injustice. The R200 banknote, as the highest denomination, demonstrates the culmination of Nelson Mandela’s journey.