Archive and dialogue

The core work of the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s research, dialogue and archive function is to generate an integrated and dynamic information resource on the life and times of Nelson Mandela, and to undertake the research and analysis required to support all Nelson Mandela Foundation functions.


The Foundation fielded several thousand enquiries about Nelson Mandela, about archival sources, access to materials and use of Mandela’s intellectual property. The Foundation constitutes a one-stop-shop for all such enquiries, whatever their origin.

In terms of the Foundation’s own publications programme:

  • Between 1998 and 2002 Nelson Mandela worked on what was intended to be a sequel to his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. Provisionally titled The Presidential Years, the manuscript was left unfinished. In 2014 the Foundation assembled a team to complete the work in collaboration with publishers, PQ Blackwell. Work was far advanced by the end of 2015
  • A user guide to the exhibition Between States of Emergency was published
  • Online publications are reported on above

A number of new documentaries and tributes by a range of film and television media received assistance from the Foundations dedicated research resource.

The Archive and Dialogue division provided continuing research and analysis in support of all the Foundations functions and projects. In particular:

  • The demands of the dialogue and advocacy functions stretched capacity to the limit
  • The permanent exhibition was upgraded, including the installation of a unit aimed at the youth, with touchscreen functionality and quiz features
  • Two new temporary exhibitions were developed – Between States of Emergency and My Constitution

Visitors attending the My Constitution exhibition


Position papers were generated on race and identity, xenophobia and the Marikana report. Two position papers on land and traditional leadership have been commissioned and (through the Archival Platform) a report on activist archiving in South Africa is being researched. 

Four special research projects were undertaken:

  • The fourth phase of the Mandela Prison Files project - the transcription of Madiba’s incoming correspondence was completed, and work is to start on his outgoing correspondence
  • Online features to mark the 25th anniversary of Madiba’s release from prison were developed
  • An oral history project to record the reminiscences of Mandela’s former staff members was completed
  • Support for a new book by Ahmed Kathrada was provided

The Foundation participated in a Robben Island Museum research agenda workshop.