Homage to Madiba – visible every day

What better way to celebrate the life and achievements of one of your most prominent citizens? With a new set of commemorative banknotes, the SARB marked the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela - or Madiba, as he was affectionately known using his clan name. The series comprises R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200 notes, all of which went into circulation on 18 July 2018. The South African Mint also issued a commemorative R5 circulation coin.

The front of the commemorative notes includes SPARK security inks, with Nelson Mandela’s portrait reflected in the watermark. The notes also feature a Louisenthal ColourShift thread that shows gleaming colours in changing hues when the notes are tilted. As well as being attractive, this element also delivers an effective deterrent to counterfeiters. The value numeral is shown in optically-variable ink (OVI) for the notes in normal circulation, while all five notes in the commemorative series showcase the innovative SPARK luminescent inks.

Banknote biography
For the special series, there was a change of design on the reverse of the notes. While the standard set had images of typical South African animals, the commemorative series displays scenes from Mandela’s life and his progression from childhood to president, marking his key events and historic milestones.

The ten-rand note (R10), for example, features the village where he was born (Birth), and the R20 the home in Soweto where he began both his career and his campaign against apartheid (Life). The background to the R50 is the place where he was taken prisoner (Capture), and the R100 Robben Island, where he was incarcerated for 18 of the 27 years he spent in captivity (Struggle). The highest denomination, R200, depicts the Union Building where he was inaugurated as president in 1994 (Destiny). The two lowest denominations – the R10 and R20 – are printed on Louisenthal’s Hybrid™ varnished composite substrate, while the others are on varnished cotton paper.

Honouring a unifying figure

Commenting on behalf of SARB, meanwhile, Pradeep Maharaj said: “Nelson Mandela is a unifying figure, with whom all South Africans can identify, and the telling of his life through the banknotes will resonate throughout the country. We are proud to honour him in this way and would like to thank those involved in the project and for their part in supporting our centenary celebrations.”

The commemorative notes are co-circulating alongside the current Mandela series banknotes until they no longer meet the clean note standards of the SARB. Once SARB has issued all the banknotes in the commemorative set, it will return to issuing the current series.

Educating the public – part of the launch campaign
SARB initiated an extensive publicity campaign (‘The Madiba in Me – remembering the values that live within us all’) to familiarise the public with the new notes and coin and engender national pride in Mandela’s achievements. It also launched a special mobile application demonstrating the security features and explaining the designs and their symbolic significance.

The Hybrid substrate from Louisenthal will help ensure that the banknotes remain clean and intact for longer. The polyester foil coating makes the notes particularly hardwearing, but they still retain the typical soft feel of a banknote due to the cotton core.

Notes that are clean and intact also facilitate verification for the general public as well as for the central bank’s processing systems. As Hybrid is designed to be particularly long-lasting, there’s a big benefit to central banks: it can help reduce costs in the long-term because the notes don’t need to be replaced as often.

The commemorative notes provide a daily reminder of the importance of remaining true to one’s values and of triumphing over injustice. So it’s a good thing they’re so long-lasting!

Further Reading

ColourShift Threads
ColourShift and ColourShift/ColourFix security threads deliver striking colours that change when the note is tilted. We offer a wide range of colour options so you can customise the thread to your banknote design.



Hybrid ADDvance® and Hybrid™
Hybrid ADDvance and Hybrid are Louisenthal’s solutions for durable and highly secure banknotes from low to high denominations.



Printed Security Features
Iridescent and colour-changing inks create alluring, anti-copy security effects, making them ideal for rapid authentication. Depending on the viewing angle, the printed elements are either visible or change colour when the note is tilted.