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New centre keeps Mandela’s memory alive

Written by Nthambeleni Gabara
The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory has transformed former President Nelson Mandela’s office into a facility for public dialogue, as well as a physical home for his legacy.

The hallway leading from the entry hall to Mr Mandela's reading room and postpresidential officeThe process of refurbishing the centre, situated in Houghton, Johannesburg has been completed.

The centre’s CEO, Sello Hatang said the refurbished premises will make the work of the centre more accessible to the public. "We've got a centre that is beginning to re-imagine itself as a public resource. We want to serve as a centre that will galvanise people to do Mandela Day activities daily, organise people around dialogue, and share Madiba's legacy."

Chairperson of the Mandela Centre of Memory and chairperson of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, Professor Njabulo Ndebele, said the three key objectives of the centre were to deliver to the world an integrated information resource on the life and times of Nelson Mandela; to convene discussions on critical social issues of the day and to share Madiba's legacy through campaigns such as Mandela Day.

At the Centre’s Archives there is a collection of Mandela materials, records of the Rivonia Trial, speeches, tributes, bibliography, filmography, a database of anti-apartheid movements’ material as well as the reflections by Mandela’s prison warders.

The archives also include the following:

Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture

The Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture series invites prominent people to drive debate on significant social issues.

The lecture series is an important event on the Centre's calendar, and encourages people to enter into dialogue – often about difficult subjects – in order to address the challenges we face today.

Previous speakers include Bill Clinton; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; former President Thabo Mbeki; world-acclaimed Chilean- American author, human rights activist and distinguished professor of Literature and Latin-American Studies Ariel Dorfman; Nobel laureate Prof Wangari Maathai and former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

Dialogue for Justice Archive

The objective of the Dialogue for Justice is to develop and sustain discussions promoting the Mandela legacy.

The centre aims to use the history, experience, values, vision and leadership of former President Mandela to provide a non-partisan platform for public discourse on important social issues, and in doing so, contribute to policy decision-making.

South Africa occupies a unique space in Africa and globally as an example of a country that emerged from the deep divisions along racial, cultural and political lines primarily because of timely dialogue between all its stakeholders.

Yet, the country continues to face a range of complex challenges. The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory seeks to keep the original spirit of inclusive and open dialogue that broke the political deadlock alive.

Access to Information

Access to information is fundamental to democracy and to the work of the Centre of Memory. Clearly then, the centre has a direct interest in any law that may restrict access to information.

This explains a longstanding and continuing engagement by the centre with processes and debates related to the Protection of State Information Bill.

Mandela Day

The main objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so, build a global movement for good. Ultimately it seeks to empower communities everywhere. “Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day.”

Individuals and organisations are free to participate in Mandela Day as they wish. The centre however urges everyone to uphold the ethical framework of “service to one’s fellow human”.

The Life and Times of Mandela

This covers former President Mandela’s Biography, his timeline where people can also find a list of important events in his life, the names which he was sometimes called, with each name having its own special meaning and story as well as the new book Nelson Mandela By Himself: The Authorised Quota-