Blinken OSA celebrates the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), the most prominent South African anti-apartheid activist and fighter, human rights defender, and head of state. During his long life, Mandela spent 27 years in prison, was his country’s first freely elected black president, and served as the leader of the African National Congress (ANC) party. In his “Speech from the Dock” at the end of his (Rivonia) trial on April 20, 1964, when he was facing the death penalty along with 10 other accused, he famously stated:
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Our archival collections contain 6-700 pages of textual material including mostly press clippings, media reports and transcriptions of radio broadcasts from the international press, and a few audiovisual items such as newscasts and documentary films on Mandela’s activities, covering the period 1962-2013. The portrait of Mandela featured here dates back to the time of his first arrest in 1962-1964, an enlarged print of which was mounted on the wall in the central office of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights’ (IHF) in Vienna. As the official archives of IHF, Blinken OSA preserves the portrait in the same way: hung permanently on the wall, to remind us of our common values that we need to promote, defend and fight for, now more than ever.