Our Patrons

CODA International is deeply saddened to hear of the death of one of its patrons, Nelson Mandela. Mandela became a patron in 1993 while president of the African National Congress (ANC), one month before jointly winning the Nobel Peace Prize with FW de Klerk. His tireless commitment to sustainable development in a democratic South Africa made him a perfect patron, at a time when CODA International was involved in addressing the imbalance of resources and training available to the black community. Our thoughts are with his family and the people of South Africa.

Mandela played a pivotal role in the South African black liberation movement that led to the end of apartheid. He joined the opposition ANC in 1943 and was involved in transforming the party into a force for radical change. Through his active and unwavering commitment to the resistance movement and liberation cause Mandela became increasingly prominent. During this time he was confined, banned, arrested, put on trial for treason and imprisoned.

In 1960 the ANC was outlawed and Nelson Mandela emerged as the leading figure in the struggle. Mandela challenged the apartheid regime to convene a national, representative convention to create a new and democratic constitution. He also led a campaign for a mass general strike if the government did not comply. When the government responded with the largest military mobilisation since the war, the ANC started to build a military faction with Mandela as Commander in Chief.  Mandela evaded the authorities for years, gaining the title the Black Pimpernel. Nevertheless in 1962 he was arrested. In 1963 11 ANC members were accused of plotting to overthrow the government. Three of them, including Mr Mandela, decided they would not appeal a death sentence. Mandela stated that he hoped to live and achieve his ideals, but if needs be he was prepared to die for them. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.
Nelson Mandela's time in prison lasted 27 years. Whilst behind bars, he became a potent symbol of resistance to apartheid, consistently refusing to compromise his political position to obtain freedom. Released on February 11th 1990, he continued his work leading the country towards multi-racial democracy, through reconciliation and negotiation. In 1993, along with the then president of South Africa, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. On April 27th 1994 the era of apartheid formally came to an end, and on May 10th 1994 Rolihlahla Nelson Dalibunga Mandela was inaugurated as President. He served one term in office, and since set up three foundations bearing his name.

Desmond Tutu:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a prominent world figure for peace and human rights. Born in 1931, Tutu was first a teacher. He became a priest in 1961 and continued his religious studies until 1966. From then on Desmond Tutu has held increasingly prominent positions within the Anglican Church and throughout he has spoken out against apartheid and the treatment of black people in South Africa.
During the era of apartheid Tutu advocated reconciliation. He encouraged civil disobedience and disinvestment in South Africa in order to pressure the government to dismantle apartheid. Despite escalating violence, he unwaveringly urged people to work together peacefully to end apartheid, and he gave support to fellow activists, throughout the most challenging times. In 1984 Desmond Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1985 Tutu became the first black Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa and later served as president of the All Africa Conference of Churches. In 1991 the government repealed apartheid laws and in 1994 Nelson Mandela, as president of South Africa, asked Archbishop Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Since then, the Commission has become a world-wide model for post-conflict procedures.
Today Archbishop Tutu is Chairman of The Elders, a group of world leaders who formed in 2007 to contribute to dealing with serious world issues. He continues to campaign for human rights worldwide.

How our patrons got involved:

"CODA was set up 20 years ago. It supported the ANC in exile in Zambia giving it access to the world media. After apartheid ended it helped establish the first computer centre in a South African township. It was at that time that Nelson Mandela and I became patrons of CODA. We saw that in South Africa people would change their lives only if they had access to knowledge, technology and skills, and changing people's lives is still at the heart of what CODA does... This is not work done by foreign aid workers who leave when the project is over, this is the community standing up for itself. This is change that lasts."

- Desmond Tutu on our BBC Radio 4 Appeal