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Last week, new bank notes with the image of one of Africa’s revered people in history, Nelson Mandela, went into distribution in South Africa.

Commenting on why this decision, the governor of the Reserve Bank, Gill Marcus said, “This is our way to pay tribute to him. Mandela does represent something special, not only in South Africa. He is really an extraordinary human being.”

Certainly most of Africa would agree with Gill, as Mandela, widely considered not only a national, but a pan-African hero, led the fight against apartheid in South Africa and ultimately spent 27 years in prison for the cause. He became the first democratically elected president of South Africa and initiated a wave of African pride and unity across the continent. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and continues to inspire exemplary leadership all around the world.

This honor is especially significant as Mandela is the second person to be featured on South African bank notes. The first person was Jan van Riebeeck from the 17th century, the first Dutch administrator of Cape Town and a member of the Dutch East India Company

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