Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s Stamp Collection


May 26, 2014 Europe/London

Nelson Mandela is one of the greatest people this world has ever known. He has become famous worldwide for his role towards the eradication of the apartheid in South Africa, and known as well for inspiring similar movements in different regions. To mark the death of this great man and to celebrate his great achievements, the Government of South Africa issued stamps to commemorate his life and achievements.

South Africa’s other personalities were also featured in stamps

The first democratic election in South Africa was held in 1994, with Mandela’s National Congress winning with absolute majority, thus making Mandela the first black president of South Africa. The first stamp was issued to commemorate this important event. From here on, the stamps were of great quality and inspiring at best. But even at the end of the apartheid era, stamps were produced using other important personalities in the design of the stamps. One example was the one issued in 2000 depicting the author who wrote extensively about the Boer war. Other people of interest who were included in the design of the stamps include Sol Plaatje - the founder member of ANC, Johanna Brandt, the author Sir Canon Doyle and Winston Churchill. South African stamps also featured sports personalities like Ernie, Francois Pienaar and Lucas Radebe. The 2003 postage stamp commemorated Shaka, the warrior king of Zulu.

There were also some changes made on stamps, including the change in name from "Suid Afrika" to "South Africa" for stamps issued between 1993 and 1997. And for those stamps that were issued starting in 1997, the inscription read "South Africa".

Fauna and natural resources were used as inspiration for stamps

Many of the definitive postal stamps issued from 1993 to 2000 include endangered fauna. Another definitive series from 2000 depicts the flora and fauna, while the latest one starting from 2010 depicts South African beadwork. The rich natural resources of the country were used as the inspiration for some of the stamps, including some South African wild animals. Birds have also been depicted in the set of ten starting 1998.
The procedures and other policies employed in South Africa with regards to stamp printing and distribution were actually similar to the policies employed in other countries. Recent years have seen a marked increase in the printing of stamps, from miniature to adhesive stamps.
All these South African stamps, from Mandela stamps to stamps commemorating the country’s rich heritage, can help one better understand the development of the country into independence.