Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Nelson Mandela and the Netherlands

Nelson Mandela, an icon of our time, spent a long career in the South African liberation movement, the African National Congress. He served 27 years in jail for his leading role in the anti-apartheid struggle, and after his release in 1990 became a central figure in the transition to a new, democratic South Africa. Mandela was elected as the country’s first black president in 1994, a post he held until 1999.

Nelson Mandela at an ANC pre-elections rally in Gauteng, March 1994
(photo: Britta Böhler)

This web dossier covers links between Nelson Mandela and the Netherlands from a number of different perspectives:

  • How was Mandela seen by Dutch politicians, the media and the general public in different periods? How did he become such a symbol of the struggle against apartheid, and what was the role of anti-apartheid groups and others? (in English, with further background stories in Dutch)
  • Personal recollections of Mandela by leading Dutch anti-apartheid activists and others: Sietse Bosgra, Conny Braam, Albert van den Heuvel, Wim Kok, Karel Roskam and Coen Stork (in Dutch)
  • Tributes to Nelson Mandela: Dutch squares, bridges and more
  • Photo gallery: images of the campaign for the release of Nelson Mandela and his visits to the Netherlands
  • From the collection of the IISH: archival records, image and campaign material relating to Nelson Mandela
  • A biography of Nelson Mandela (in Dutch); a biography in English can be found on the website of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.  

Another web dossier dedicated to Nelson Mandela can be found on the website of the Leiden-based African Studies Centre, with links to publications about and by Nelson Mandela and on Robben Island listed in the African Studies Centre library’s online catalogue, and a selection of links to other relevant websites.

An earlier version of this web dossier was published in Dutch by the Amsterdam-based Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa (NiZA, now Niza/ActionAid) in 2006. The dossier was completely revised and updated and a number of sections in English were added in 2011 after the transfer of the NiZA historical collection to the International Institute of Social History in 2008.

Nelson Mandela died on 5 December 2013.

Last update: January 2014.