In 1994, Mandela became South Africa’s first black President and he played a crucial role in unifying a country still haunted
by its racially divided past.
The 94 year-old former President is revered both nationally and internationally as a champion of freedom, human rights and democracy and has received
the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
This is the first time that a black
man or woman is represented on South African money.
Nelson Mandela rarely appears in public now, as he has retired
in his childhood village of Qunu.
Gill Marcus, the country's Reserve Bank governor, emphasized that representing the former President on the banknotes is a way of paying tribute to him and of displaying national pride. Marcus also mentioned that Mandela had seen the notes throughout their drafting process and was delighted by how they had turned out.
Mandela has also lent his name to universities and roads, while in Johannesburg he is honored
through a giant bronze statue, which attracts numerous tourists on a daily basis.
On the side, the new banknotes
feature South Africa's "big five" wild animals-rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard.