Nelson Mandela Foundation

About the Nelson Mandela Foundation

About Us 1

On 18 November 2013, South African President Jacob Zuma opened the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, official home of the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, Johannesburg.

(Image: NMF)

The Nelson Mandela Foundation was established in 1999 when its Founder, Mr Nelson Mandela, stepped down as the President of South Africa.

Mr Mandela was South Africa’s first democratically elected President. On 9 May 1994, soon after our landmark election results were in, he was unanimously elected President by South Africa’s new Members of Parliament.

The next day, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was sworn in at an inauguration ceremony at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

He vowed to serve only one term as President, and in 1999 he stepped down to make way for Thabo Mbeki.

In the life of any individual, family, community or society, memory is of fundamental importance. It is the fabric of identity.
Nelson Mandela

Soon after Mr Mbeki was inaugurated as President on 16 June 1999, Mr Mandela was on the telephone to rally his staff for the new tasks ahead. They had to remind him they no longer worked for him, and so the Nelson Mandela Foundation was born. As Mr Mandela’s post-presidential office, it provided the base for his charitable work, covering a wide range of endeavours: from building schools to HIV/AIDS work, from research into education in rural areas to peace and reconciliation interventions.

Five years later, the Foundation began its transition into an organisation focused on memory, dialogue and legacy work. A comprehensive refurbishment of the Foundation’s building provided it with an appropriate physical home, the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. The Centre was opened on 18 November 2013, three years to the day after Mr Mandela last used the building as his office.

Founding principles of the Nelson Mandela Foundation

  • The creation, establishment, protection and preservation of a Centre of Memory about Mr Mandela, which contains an archive of the life and times, works, and writings of the Founder
  • Convening dialogue around critical social issues, including particular issues regarding human rights and democracy, in order to contribute to a just society
  • The promotion of, or engaging in, philosophical activities, including discussion regarding issues pertaining to human rights and democracy
  • The raising of funds in furtherance of the Trust’s objectives
  • The provision of support services to, or the promotion of the common interests of, public benefit organisations


Our vision is a just society, one which learns from its pasts and listens to all its voices.


Our mission is to contribute to the making of a just society by mobilising the legacy of Nelson Mandela, providing public access to information on his life and times, and convening dialogue on critical social issues.

Core work

To deliver to the world an integrated and dynamic information resource on the life and times of Nelson Mandela, and promote the finding of sustainable solutions to critical social problems through memory-based dialogue interventions.

Download: The Nelson Mandela Foundation Visitor Guide

Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory