South Africa issues Nelson Mandela stamp

AP News
Posted: Feb 11, 2014 9:41 AM

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — When Nelson Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, South Africa's post office issued a stamp with his image. It released another when Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa's first black president in the following year. Then one more when the former president turned 90 in 2008.

The postal service issued a fourth commemorative stamp with a portrait of Mandela on Tuesday, the 24th anniversary of his release from prison during white minority rule. He died Dec. 5 at the age of 95.

The South African post office plans to sell five million copies of the silver stamp, which costs about $4.50 and comes in a folder with information about the anti-apartheid leader who spent 27 years in prison and was released on Feb. 11, 1990.

About 20 cents from every stamp sale will go to a literacy campaign run by a foundation named after Mandela, said Johan Kruger, a post office spokesman.

The stamp can be used to send a standard letter in the international post, which costs about 50 cents, but Kruger said buyers were more likely to keep it as a souvenir. It is available at post offices across South Africa and stamp collectors around the world can buy it online.

A strike by workers demanding more benefits has slowed postal operations in South Africa, but Kruger said he expected it to be over by the end of the week.

Post office officials met Mandela, known by his clan name Madiba, in 2008 to discuss plans for a stamp celebrating his 90th birthday, according to the current issue of the postal service magazine. Mandela was brought into the room in a wheelchair, although those present had been told that he would not say anything, the account said.

When the meeting was over, magazine editor Johan van Wyk wrote, Mandela said to laughter in the audience: "You want me to say something, but I cannot say anything."