Nelson Mandela Foundation

My journey at the Nelson Mandela Foundation started in 2021 as I joined the Foundation’s Archives and Research team. My first day at the Foundation was very exciting. I always thought the Foundation was only about helping the poor and doing charity work when I started. I discovered how the Archives and Research team is a very important team at the office and forms part of the three pillars of the Foundation which are Archive and Research, Dialogue and Advocacy and Mandela Day programmes. I saw that there is a potential for career pathing.

I started working for the Foundation when South Africa was still under intense Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. This meant I worked in a hybrid working environment. These working conditions were challenging at times as I wanted to be in the office to get to know the Foundation culture and my colleagues. However, I worked from home and improved my ability to work with technology. I familiarised myself with Microsoft Teams and Zoom and became more effective in learning to manage my time.

The Foundation assisted by providing all the work equipment and support services to enable me to work from home smoothly and effectively. During my time at the Foundation, I have participated in the archiving of important collections and records management projects. One of the collections I assisted with is the Foundation collection which consisted of the records of past Foundation activities and projects. I sorted and arranged the collection for digitisation. I also accessioned new collections and digitised audio-visual tapes and paper archives. I also assisted the Records Manager, Ethel Arends with migrating the organisational records to a new system, namely SharePoint.

One of my major accomplishments as an intern was learning how to use the Access to Memory (AtoM) system which is an open-source, standard-based as well as a web-based archival information system that provides public institutional access to holdings of archival repositories. Related to this, another milestone was learning about Archivematica, which is a free open-source digital system that is designed to maintain standard-based long-term digital objects that are packaged within the web-based content management system for AtoM.

I also participated in Mandela Day charity work in collaboration with other partners in distributing school shoes and books to schools in Daveyton.

Recently the Foundation has received a donation of a collection of documents, tape recordings and archival material related to different struggle heroes, including OR Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko and Luli Callinicos. Callinicos is a retired social historian and author. Her books,The World that made Mandela, was published in 2000, and Oliver Tambo: Beyond the Engeli Mountains, in 2004. I was excited to be part of the archive team visiting her house and assisting with packing and transporting the materials.

As my internship is coming to an end at the Foundation, I will sadly not be part of this exciting development of processing and digitising this important collection. However, the materials will be accessible on online portal Archive at The Centre of Memory (ACoM).

I have learned very important skills that I will be taking along with me like archival processing skills, accessioning new collections, records management and digitising. The skills I have gained at the Foundation have provided me with a diverse and flexible skill set that will help me in my future as an archivist.