According to Joseph Walkes’ book “The History of the M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina and Jusrisdiction, 1864-2000”, pages 268-272, Nelson Mandela was made a mason “at sight” by the Grand Master William C. Parker Jr, in June 28th 1990, while Mandela and his wife were touring the United States.
Immediately after Mandela vein made a mason, the Grand Master Parker, in the terms of his authority as the Conservator of the Freemasonry in North Caroline Jurisdiction, made Mandela’s wife, Winnie, a member of the Eastern Star. Also, according to Walkes on the book mentioned above, there was an article in the Masonic Journal at the endo of 1990, announcing the constitution of the Lodge Nelson Mandela and the Nelson Mandela Eastern Star Chapter in Soweto, South Africa.
So, with that explained above, yes he was a mason, but he was not initiated as we normally were, he was “made a mason” by the Grand Master that had such authority, and yes, he had great influence in taking Freemasonry to South Africa but he was not a 33rd degree Scottish Rite member since he received the York Rite degrees and not the Scottish Rite ones.
It is circulating on the internet a photo of Mandela wearing a Knight of Malta costume, which although it is a masonic degree, he received that honor from the Queen of England, so it is not the Masonic Malta degree but a British Honor Title.
By Cesar Luis Bueno Gonçalves, PM
Internet Lodge 9659 – UGLE
United Grand Lodge of England
Masonic Province of East Lancashire, England