Nelson Mandela 1918 – 2013

The death of Nelson Mandela was announced last night and has triggered a wave of warm reflections on and re-examinations of his life and work. The media has been fascinated by Mandela since the 1960s and we wanted to take a look back over Mandela’s media story through Jisc MediaHub.

Although Nelson Mandela had been politically active since the 1940s it wasn’t until his participation in the ANC (the African National Congress) started to lead to sanctions, including bans on speaking in public, and arrests, that Mandela began becoming prominent internationally.

In this, occasionally very dated but also quite prescient, Roving Report on South Africa, from 1961, you can watch (from around minute 11) Nelson Mandela’s first television interview. At this time he was already in hiding from the authorities.

Still from the first television interview with Nelson Mandela, part of Roving Report, 1961

This Report on South Africa, ITN: Roving Report, 21-06-1961

Mandela talks in the interview about non-violent protests but also addresses concerns around – and calls for – violent protest, framing these concerns and calls for action role with the role of violence in the South African authorities’ treatment of black South African’s protesting apartheid.

Whilst the overarching intent was peaceful, violent protests did follow, with the ANC implicated in some of these acts, as Mandela discussed in a 1990 interview. However, when Mandela was tried on counts of sabotage and conspiring to violently overthrow the government, Mandela’s presentation of himself and the ANC’s opposition to the racism inherent in the apartheid system gained international attention.

Mandela was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1964 with political activists and the British media taking note. An anti-apartheid march took place in London in June 1964, organised with trade union participation and including a speech by Bertrand Russell:

Image from the film Mandela March recording a protest in London in 1964.

Mandela March, ITV News: NEWS FROM ITN ( ITV Late Evening News ), 14-06-1964

The campaign that began in 1964 was to carry on for decades, with the ANC and other anti-aparthaid campaigners, international organisations, and many supporters around the world keeping Mandela’s imprisonment a live issue, and using it as a focal point for criticisms of the South African government and it’s actions.

By the mid eighties the pressure on South Africa to change was gaining real momentum.  Although Mandela had not been seen since his arrest, his reputation was still formidable, as this 1985 profile shows. In 1986, footage shot by an American TV crew at Medipark Clinic in Cape Town, appeared to be the first sighting of Mandela in almost 25 years. The identification was confirmed by his (second) wife Winnie, a fellow ANC activist and one of the most vocal campaigners for his release during his long imprisonment.

Screenshot of images of Mandela in prison in 1986

A witness to Mandela’s visit to hospital talks about what he saw. (Nelson Mandela:, ITV News: NEWS AT TEN ( ITV Late Evening News ), 13-02-1986)

In June 1988 a major ANC Rally took place, with Zulu leader Chief Buthelezi giving a powerful speech calling for Nelson Mandela, still the ANC’s influential leader, to be released.

Image from 1988 Mandela Rally

S AFRICA: MANDELA RALLY:, ITN: NEWS AT TEN ( ITV Late Evening News ), 11-06-1988

The campaigners would not have to wait long … The South African Government started to offer some concessions, although Mandela refused a day-long visit from family for his 70th birthday in 1988, finding such an offer problematic to “accept such a gift if his people were not able to give him that same gift of celebrating that same day with him“, as Winnie Mandela explains in this news clip from July ’88.

Rumours of Mandela’s possible release began to circulate and when a car-bomb exploded at the ANC headquarters in September 1988, international pressure particularly from the US, increased.

And then, astonishingly, in 1990, Nelson Mandela was released. It seemed the whole free world celebrated.


South Africans celebrate Nelson Mandela’s release. 2 Nov 1990. Getty Images

The world’s news organisations compiled special, extended packages of events.

As President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, Mandela was revered globally as a peacemaker and philanthropist. Children even voted him Santa of the Year.

Children Vote Nelson Mandela ‘Santa Of The Year’. 5 Dec 1995. AP Archive.

But he was also shrewd politically, distancing himself from his estranged wife Winnie by sacking her from government in 1995.

In 1999, aged 81, Nelson Mandela retired from politics but continued to speak out on issues that concerned him, both local and international. He was listened to attentively by senior politicians, diplomats and other world leaders. In 2004, as his health began to deteriorate, Mandela “retired from retirement”.

Jisc MediaHub records one of the rare public appearances of his final years, at the concert in Hyde Park in 2008 to celebrate his 90th birthday.


Nelson Mandela Gives Speech At Concert In Hyde Park. 20 Feb 2008. AP Archive.

We will never see his like again.


Farewell to Our Man from Mars: Ray Bradbury Dies at 91

Ray Bradbury passed away at the age of 91 on 5th June leaving seven decades of work for posterity.

He was a monumental figure in 20th century science fiction and his genre of choice let him wield imagination to get a message across. He was the master of making the familiar seem strange, and the strange feel familiar.


Still from the Man and His Culture Film from the Open Video Project

"Everyday life might be pretty weird from an alien perspective" (Open Video Project : 1954)


Novels, comics, and stories of all sorts were an integral part of the author’s life from a very young age. Fahrenheit 451, possibly his most famous work, was a scathing commentary on censorship set in a dystopian future.

Person standing behind a sign that reads Art is Patriotic. Censorship Isn't at a demonstration supporting the display of Dread Scott Tyler's flag art at the Art Institute of Chicago.  (Photo by Keith Philpott//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Person standing behind a sign that reads Art is Patriotic. Censorship Isn't (Photo by Keith Philpott//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images 11-03-1989)

That book was published in the 1950s, an era characterised by its enthusiasm for censorship.

Image of a man standing outside next to a theatre poster.

The Theatres Act, which restricted the content of plays was repealed (THEATRE CENSORSHIP ENDS. News At Ten (ITV Late Evening News) 26-09-1968)

Bradbury preferred to call his own works fantasy, rather than science fiction, and although they are fantastic, books like The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles were loved by science fiction fans all over the world.

Picture of a group of people in science fiction costumes.

Humans in otherworldly attire talk about their science fiction favorites. (WORLD SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTION. ITV Early Evening News 09-08-1957)

Outside the literary world, Bradbury acted as a consultant at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City and in 1982 he was instrumental in the development of Spaceship Earth, the iconic “Epcot ball” at Disney World in Florida.

Image of two men playing early computer games.

Take a look at first impressions of Epcot (EPCOT. News at Ten (ITV Late Evening News) 10-04-1982)

His contributions to science fiction also inspired many to go into the fields of science and technology.

Image of a landing probe.

Mission: Impossible, landing a probe on a comet five billion miles away (SPACE: EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY MISSION TO LAND PROBE ON COMET. ITV Early Evening News. 19-02-2004)

Some of Bradbury’s work describes then-futuristic computers, modes of transportation, and what he believed it would be like to colonise other planets.

Image of the USS Starship Enterprise from the series Star Trek

Power in the Star Trek universe may be closer to reality than we think (ANTI MATTER ATOMS CREATED. Channel 4 News (Channel 4 Early Evening News). 01-05-1996)

Curl up with one of Bradbury’s books over the weekend. Or any book, for that matter – that’s what he would have wanted.


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