We are delighted to announce that the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s late photo archivist, Lucia Raadschelders, is to be honoured posthumously by the Presidency for her role in South Africa’s freedom struggle.
Raadschelders passed away on 19 November 2018 after a long battle with cancer. The Presidency will honour her with the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Silver.
Elinor Sisulu, who nominated Dutch national Raadschelders, said that she had “devoted most of her life to the struggle for freedom in South Africa”. Raadschelders had worked in the anti-apartheid movement and in the ANC underground structures.
Sisulu’s nomination was seconded by struggle veterans Razia Saleh, Bart Luirink, Ruth Lewin, Goolam Aboobaker and Ivan Pillay. Sisulu said Raadschelders had “served with courage, humility and compassion, and is thoroughly deserving of the Order of Companions of OR Tambo”.
“Lucia has always seen herself as a foot soldier working quietly in the background and not as a leader. But foot soldiers must be honoured too,” said Saleh.
Sello Hatang, Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said that Raadschelders, who joined the Centre of Memory in 2009, had “become the leading specialist on photographs of Nelson Mandela”.
Hatang said that “in her quiet way” she had “contributed enormously to South Africa during the struggle against apartheid, and also building a democratic non-racial society. She was modest, and always stayed out of the limelight.”
The award will be presented in South Africa on 25 April 2019.
The National Orders are the highest awards that South Africa bestows, through the President of South Africa, on citizens and members of the international community who have contributed meaningfully towards making the country a free, democratic and successful nation, united in its diversity.
Her brothers, Jan and Paul Raadschelders, will travel from The Netherlands to receive the award on Lucia’s behalf.