Change the world


Changing behaviour to save lives is the overriding hope of the #MaskUpMandela movement.

It’s about each one of us doing something ordinary to ensure an extraordinary impact – that of protecting ourselves and protecting others by simply (making and) wearing masks.

Nelson Mandela University’s #MaskUpMandela movement is not unique nor is it in competition with any other initiative to change the habits of a nation through education or mask-making efforts.  Rather, it’s part of a collective drive to save lives by wearing a mask and help prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

#MaskUpMandela has two main arms:

  • Education and awareness
  • A call to action for volunteers to make masks

Education and Awareness

To help fast-track widespread understanding of the coronavirus and specifically the importance of always wearing a mask in public, the University is today launching the second phase of its campaign/movement with a series of new posters.

  • Posters

These posters of real people in real settings in three language options are available on the MaskUpMandela site for general use ( They will be shared on social media to support all aspects of the campaign aimed at entrenching a new behaviour.

These posters follow a series of others in cartoon-format based on information provided by the Department of Health. These were shared on the University’s campuses prior to Lockdown and on social media to educate on the importance of social distancing, hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette.

  • Flyers

In addition, 100 000 flyers with information in English and isiXhosa on why masks are important and how to make your own mask have been distributed throughout the metro and beyond to NGOS, feeding schemes, taxis and church groups in a bid to reach those who do not have easy access to social media.

  • Arts for wellness

The University’s division of Arts, Culture and Heritage also has a programme of activities lined up that uses poetry, song and dance to spread awareness in the campaign’s bid to change behaviour and save lives.  

Mask Volunteers  

With 60 million people expected to adhere to the new national rule of wearing masks in public, there is an urgent need for cloth masks. And hence, the University’s call, in partnership with the metro and provincial government, for volunteers to make, donate and distribute masks.

Every mask or donation of materials will help.

Simply fill in the volunteer form.

The call also goes to entrepreneurs and SMMEs whose business acumen and skill set will also enable the fast-tracking of the production of masks.

Volunteers are encouraged to immediately get sewing, like a Mandela University staff member who has been making masks for the George Hospital in her spare time.

A pattern, designed by the Department of Visual Arts, is available on the site for all sewers.

The University will facilitate the distribution of these masks through the work it is doing as part of its Coronavirus Coordinating Committee, formed to streamline its response to fighting COVID-19 in partnership with government, business and civil society, and in line with its mandate of being in service of society.

New norms

Change is never easy, but when change saves lives, it is our collective responsibility to play our part by educating ourselves and others as to the reasons for the necessary change in behaviour. The University’s coronavirus website is your go-to site for reliable information for credible organisations like the World Health Organisation, John Hopkins’ University and closer to home, the Department of Health.

Wearing a mask in public needs to become the norm because it helps to protect ourselves and to protect others.

Please forward your ideas to to further help the University’s #MaskUpMandela movement strive to entrench this new norm.

Contact information
Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057