Tens of thousands gather for Mandela

On today’s date in 1990, more than 72,000 people gathered to honour recently freed African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela at a concert in London’s Wembley Stadium.

This year, Canada Post featured Mandela on a permanent-rate stamp, souvenir sheet and first-day cover.

Chris Alexander, Canada’s citizenship and immigration minister, said, “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.”

The stamp’s design is based on a photograph of Mandela taken during his first visit to Canada in 1990 – only four months after his release from 27 years in South African prison. An Armenian-Canadian portrait photographer named Yousuf Karsh took the photograph.

The Canadian Bank Note Company produced the booklets of 10 permanent-rate stamps. The design shows the black and white image of Mandela, with the South African flag in colour in the background. The booklet stamps are self-adhesive, printed on Tullis Russell Coatings coated paper with simulated perforations and a design by Ian Drolet.

Canada Post also issued this souvenir sheet depicting Mandela.

Canada Post also issued this souvenir sheet depicting Mandela.

The same design is used for a souvenir sheet, except the stamp has the $2.50 international rate. Among the images on the sheet is a photograph by Jurgen Schadeberg, taken in 1994, showing Mandela in his former prison cell on Robben Island. The souvenir sheet, also using Tullis Russell paper, has water-activated adhesive and 14-plus perforations. A total of 500,000 booklets, 16,000 covers and 15,000 souvenir sheets were produced. The cover has a Jan. 30 cancel from Ottawa. The circular cancel has a floral emblem in the centre.

A prominent anti-apartheid leader and South Africa’s first black president, Mandela was made an honorary citizen of Canada in 2001 during his third visit to the country. He was the first living person to receive this honor.

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