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Nelson Mandela 1918 - Forever

2018 marks the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela. This provides a unique opportunity for people around the world to reflect on his life and times and to promote his legacy. In 2018 the Nelson Mandela Foundation will seek to create appropriate platforms for such engagement.

Nelson Mandela established the Foundation as his post-presidential office in 1999. As he stepped away from public life he gave us a robust social justice mandate in the areas of memory and dialogue. The Mandela Day campaign was introduced in 2009 as a tool for the world to honour him by interpreting his legacy in the contexts of working to meet the needs of local communities.

By any measure Nelson Mandela’s impact, both locally and globally, has been unparalleled. But the unfinished business of his life-work looms large. The South Africa of his dreams remains tantalisingly out of reach. We will use his centenary year to continue working to make these dreams a reality. And we will strive to fulfil his wish that the Foundation become fully sustainable. He initiated our endowment strategy in 2007 during the lead-up to his 90th birthday. It would be appropriate to complete the endowment in the year of what would have been his 100th birthday.

Madiba’s dreams require us, in 2018 especially, to focus our work around four primary objectives: the eradication of poverty and inequality, the dismantling of structural racism, the building of institutions of democracy, and the broadening of freedom of information. Core programmes at the Foundation underpin each of these objectives. And delivery of online access to his personal archive before the end of the year will support all of them.

No single person, family, institution or country owns the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Ultimately it belongs to everyone who is working for social justice, wherever they are in the world. Our aim in 2018 is to make that legacy more available to those committed to continuing struggles for justice. The future of humanity hinges on these struggles.


As the Foundation, we will mark this year by investing our efforts in building a values-based society. Though our variety of programmes and activities, we will channel society towards the revival of values, fundamentally anchored in ubuntu.

Be the Legacy

With this call to action, the Foundation seeks to charge society to accept Madiba’s challenge, to take upon itself the responsibility to solve the challenges of the world. When he said, “It is in your hands to make of the world a better place”, we believe he was passing on the responsibility to the next generation of leading and helping change the world for the better.

Find the Madiba in You

With this message we intend to inspire people of the world in their diversity to search within themselves and find the good that inherently exists within.

Action Against Poverty

As part of its commitment to making meaningful and sustainable interventions in challenges facing the continent and the world, the Foundation, through one of its key pillars and outreach programmes, Nelson Mandela International Day (Mandela Day), has sought to focus attention on poverty. We are constantly reminded of Madiba’s words:

“The world remains beset by so much human suffering, poverty and depravation. It is in your hands to make a difference.”

This sub-message seeks to mobilise society’s efforts both from the perspective of research as we look for long-term solutions, as well as short-term ones as we intervene directly in poverty. In the end, we must end poverty and human suffering.

Take Action, Inspire Change, Make Every Day a Mandela Day

This is a direct call to action to public institutions, corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversations and actions that commit to establishing sustainable programmes in local communities. This is to also inspire society to act every day and not only to take up the responsibility of impacting other people’s lives on 18 July, but throughout the year, too.


There are many values that define Madiba’s character. We also know that many people relate to different values of Madiba for different reasons. Some of these include, but are not limited to, love, peace, forgiveness and humility.

As the Foundation we have institutionalised some of these values and these will become a consistent part of our messaging throughout 2018 and beyond. We encourage any other partner organisation or stakeholder to identify some of these, or other values, and adopt them for themselves.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation institutional values

The Foundation seeks to create a values-based society and, through the mirror of its own values, plans to positively influence society to adopt the following values:

  • Integrity – We are committed to being ethical, professional, reliable and authentic
  • Passion – We care deeply about the world and the work we do in it. We aim to go the extra mile
  • Respect – We listen carefully, honour difference and embrace inclusivity
  • Service – Work for us is a calling. We strive for excellence in serving our public. We work to build the world of Nelson Mandela's dreams
  • Transformation – We are determined to fight injustice in all its forms. We are committed to continuing self-renewal. We welcome creativity
  • Transparency – We believe in freedom of information. We strive to share information resources as widely as possible. We respect legitimate restrictions on access