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Nelson Mandela: The Centenary Exhibition 2018

Mark the 2018 centenary of iconic leader Nelson Mandela’s birth in this exhibition about his life, career, and commitment to equality and justice.

This exhibition explores the life and times of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918 – 2013) and marks the centenary of his birth. It provides insight into Mandela’s journey from young freedom fighter to becoming the inspiration for an international movement against South Africa’s violent and oppressive apartheid system, and an emblem of an ongoing struggle to build a more just and equitable world.

Born and raised in a rural village, Mandela joined the African National Congress where he became a leading figure in the fight against apartheid.

Enduring life on the run, several long political trials, and ultimately 27 years in prison, Mandela developed a deep wisdom and a distinct ability to connect with others. As he famously said of his and others’ struggle against apartheid: ‘I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.’

It was not just his ideas, but also his magnanimous personality, resilience and charm that enabled Mandela to lead South Africa through a volatile transition. In 1994, he became the country’s first democratically elected president.

He transformed the political landscape at home and around the world, becoming one of the most influential and iconic individuals of the 20th century. Mandela’s vision remains timeless and inspiring in today’s troubled world.

In 1996 on a visit to London, Nelson Mandela said 'The response of the people of this country exceeded my wildest expectations... I wish I had big pockets, because I love each and every one of you, and I'd like to fit you in my pocket and return with you to South Africa.'

Presented by Apartheid Museum, Anti-Apartheid Movement Archives and Southbank Centre.

London was both South Africa's colonial metropole and the headquarters of the international anti-apartheid struggle. It was also the venue for some of Nelson Mandela's most inspiring speeches. May his life, work and ideas inspire the kind of global movement for change humankind desperately needs
Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation

Dates & times

This event has passed.


Queen Elizabeth Hall
Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer



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Event information
Opens Tue 17 Jul at 4pm. Runs 10am – 11pm daily, 18 Jul – 19 Aug inclusive.

Related events
Nelson Mandela Children's Trail

Children and their grown-ups can learn more about Nelson Mandela's life by following the exhibition’s Children's Trail.

Guiding children ages 5 – 16 through six themes in the exhibition, the trail poses interactive questions and offers the opportunity to participate in a competition, as well as a chance to share ideas about how to make the world a better place.