New Issue: Mandela, King honoured on Irish stamps

Ireland’s An Post honoured Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela on a se-tenant pair of “International Statesmen” stamps issued last month.

The son of an African chief, Mandela (1918-2013) was South Africa’s first black president and studied law to become one of South Africa’s first black lawyers. He was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to life imprisonment for high treason and conspiracy against the state. Eventually released in 1982, he served as South Africa’s president from 1994-99, when his government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through reconciliation. He was awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, which he shared with the man who released him, President Frederik Willem de Klerk.


In 2015, Mandela was commemorated on a Permanent stamp issued by Canada Post in a ceremony with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The stamp recognized the special relationship Canada shared with Mandela, who referred to this country as his home away from home.

During his 27 years in prison, Mandela became a symbol of the moral fight for freedom, equality and justice in South Africa and around the world. His message strongly resonated among Canadians, who were at the forefront of the global outcry over his imprisonment and of the unrelenting demand for his release.

Canada’s 2015 Permanent stamp was designed by Ian Drolet.

After his release in 1990, Canada was among the first countries Mandela visited. Four years later, as president of South Africa, he specifically drew on Canadian values, policies and practices to build his post-apartheid vision of a multi-racial democracy rooted in equality and governed by the rule of law.

In 2001, on his third visit to Canada, Mandela was bestowed with honorary Canadian citizenship—the first living person to receive this recognition.

“Nelson Mandela, an honorary Canadian citizen, is an inspiration to everyone who values human rights. As a great champion of freedom, beloved by Canadians, he will forever be remembered as a man whose courage changed not just South Africa, but also the world,” said Chris Alexander, then Canada’s citizenship and immigration minister.


The An Post first-day cover includes both stamps.

King (1929-68) is best known as an activist and humanitarian, who greatly advanced the cause of African-American civil rights. He graduated from high school and college, working as a Baptist minister before helping to organize the March on Washington in 1963. It was there he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in front of a crowd of 250,000 demonstrators.

King was assassinated on April 4 1968, in Memphis, Tn.

The An Post stamps were designed by Dublin-based design studio Aad and feature photographs of King at the March on Washington and Mandela at Soweto in September 1990. Each stamp measures 36 millimetres by 36 millimetres, and they were issued in sheets of 16 stamps. A first-day cover was also issued.

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