South Africa & Germany issue joint stamps to celebrate Madiba’s 100 years

The German Post and the South African Post Office issued a bilateral stamp issue on 18 July 2018, on what would have been the 100th birthday of the first State President of a democratic South Africa, Nelson Mandela.

The photograph for the SA stamp is from the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) Blue Media archives and the stamp was designed by Rachel-Mari Ackermann of the SA Post Office.

The German stamp photo was taken by Paul Weinberg, a South African who was active in the anti-apartheid resistance movement. The stamp was designed by André Heers and Annette le Fort.

Nelson Mandela, popularly known as Tata (father in isiXhosa) or Madiba (his clan name) is one of the most globally recognised names.

He was a long-term political prisoner having spent 27 years in prison and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Moreover, he was one of the Elders, a group of prominent and experienced citizens of the world whose aim is to ‘bring reason, maturity of thought, disciplined governance, peace amongst others’ to the world with special focus on troubled spots.

There are so many parallels between Germany and SA that a joint stamp issue between the two countries to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela is very appropriate.

Both countries experienced human suffering; the tearing apart of a nation; debilitating hardships and atrocities yet managed to overcome them and soar above them. Nelson Mandela is a symbol of freedom, love for mankind, reconciliation and nation building. As such his legacy resonates with the values of both countries.

The images and “stories behind the stamps” on both stamp issues are quite different from each other. The format and sizes are also not the same.

According to Rachel-Mari, the NMF’s slogan for the Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018 celebrations: “Be the legacy”, influenced her decision to portray him at a late stage of his life as “He will forever be a ‘father’ to the South African nation and inspires us to invest in the future of our children”. The warm colours reflect his personality; the gold lettering accentuates his status as a treasure of the country.

The German stamp features a photo of a relatively young Nelson Mandela taken three days after his release from prison. It shows Nelson Mandela in profile, looking upwards into the light with an expression of relief.

“The image captures a range of emotions, mainly hope and faith. His strength and optimism are palpable. We think it is a beautiful image that aptly encapsulates Nelson Mandela’s life,” say André Heers and Annette le Fort. They chose the colours of the flag of the democratic South Africa, for their symbolic meaning. “The vivid colours stand in sharp contrast to the stamp’s black-and-white background.”

Another interesting feature of the stamp is the bold font used, known as ‘Knockout’. It was selected as it evoked feelings of warmth and also comes in Featherweight, Middleweight, Heavyweight, amongst others. The terms are used in boxing and Nelson Mandela was a keen boxer in his young days.

The stamps offer true insight into what made Nelson Mandela the icon he is.

The stamps are available from major post office branches and can be ordered from sa.stamps@postoffice.co.za.

Miniature stamp sheet containing one stamp: Standard Postage rate (R4,20)

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