Squabbles over slice of Mandela

2012-07-18 19:09

Johannesburg - South Africans celebrated Nelson Mandela's 94th birthday on Wednesday with giant cakes, mass renditions of Happy Birthday and 67 minutes of good deeds - one for each year of the anti-apartheid leader's struggle against white-minority rule.

But beyond the mawkish tributes to South Africa's first black president, the day revealed the unseemly scramble among companies, politicians and charities for a slice of the reflected glory of Madiba.

The ANC released a 1 450 word eulogy to its totemic former leader, exhorting the country's 50 million people to "continue the build the South Africa of Madiba's dreams".

Yet only last week, Mandela ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was accusing the ANC in a leaked letter of "shabby treatment" of the family and wanting to wheel them out only "when we have to be used for some agenda".

Re-opened old wounds

The "67 minutes" Mandela Day charity push has also re-opened old wounds amid criticism it is merely a vehicle for whites and the newly rich black elite to assuage the guilt of living at the top of what remains one of the most unequal societies, even 18 years after the end of apartheid.

Leading the charge was Luther Lebelo, head of an ANC branch in Johannesburg, who wrote an article in the Sowetan newspaper suggesting the day was about "little cosmetic charity activities" that only served to perpetuate class divisions.

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, as the official guardians of his image are known, hit back in the same paper, taking particular exception to Lebelo's reference to the "so-called Mandela Foundation".

The jibe reflects a view widely held among South Africa's overwhelming black majority that whites have managed to co-opt Mandela and his image since the first all-race elections in 1994.

Mandela 'licence'

The Mandela centre has also become embroiled in a commercial battle with members of his family over the selling of Mandela-branded clothing via its '46664' fashion range, named after the number he was given during his 27 years in prison.

Set up in 2002 as an HIV/Aids charity, '46664' has since gone into business to raise funds, with official Mandela wristbands, cellphone starter packs and clothes - all protected by a licence that "guards against the commercialisation of Mr Mandela's name and image".

The clothing range, which includes $100 jeans made in China, launched in New York with a glitzy ceremony at the South Africa consulate on Wednesday, only a week after two of Mandela's granddaughters debuted a line of shirts, tops and hats under a "Long Walk to Freedom" brand, named after his autobiography.

"There are a lot of people out there who try to take advantage of the name. We are aware of that," said David Manaway, husband of LWTF co-founder Zaziwe Manaway.

Cashing in

"The two ladies who started this brand can't exploit their own name. They have a right to do whatever they want around the family name," he told Reuters.

Other organisations with no ostensible link to either charity or the family were happy to cash in.

A Johannesburg grocery chain offered a cut price "Mandela Day Deal" on potatoes, onions and chicken, while supermarket giant Pick n Pay gave shoppers double reward points under their "Happy Birthday Madiba" scheme.

Meanwhile, away from all the hullabaloo, an increasingly frail Mandela spent the day with close family and friends - and former US president Bill Clinton - in his ancestral village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province.

"While the elder statesman has now effectively retired from public life, there has been no slowdown in the greedy 'Mandela rush' to cash in and 'keep his legacy alive'," regional brand expert Thebe Ikalafeng wrote in the Star newspaper.

"Everybody from the credible to the dodgy is riding the Mandela bandwagon to get what they can before he departs."

  • ken.rowe.509 - 2012-07-18 19:14

    The ANC is milking brand Mandela..big time !

      charmaine.paterson1 - 2012-07-18 19:19

      Not just the ANC! As the article states, it's quite widespread. It revolts me, an anonymous donation to a legitimate charity would mean so much more than these cheap PR stunts.

      kolobe.mzansi.9 - 2012-07-18 19:24

      the anc made him thats was not the dp,np,ifp or the da

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-07-18 19:34

      Only the DA are following in the footsteps of Mandela. If you want to follow the legacy of Nelson Mandela, you need to follow the DA.

      charmaine.paterson1 - 2012-07-18 19:34

      Kolobe, I actually understood that Mandela helped make the ANC? Isn't that why he was the president?

      devon.riley.52 - 2012-07-18 20:17

      It appears that business also try and cash in as much as possible for good PR. I personally feel that Mandela is highly overrated. It is because of him that we have a bunch of corrupt incompetent thieves in government.

      lona.vezi - 2012-07-18 22:09

      ANC made the brand Mandela

      lona.vezi - 2012-07-18 22:11

      ANC made the brand Mandela. If it weren't for O.R. he wouldn't have been a pres.

      lona.vezi - 2012-07-18 22:11

      ANC made the brand Mandela. If it weren't for O.R. he wouldn't have been a pres.

  • CharlesDumbwin - 2012-07-18 19:23

    I hope the ANC have got another poster-child in the wings for the day that Mandela dies. They have to have something to keep the emotional attachment of the masses. Hey, maybe I could pose and become the next icon of ANC politics? I like that, Charles Dumbwin for president, has a nice ring to it.

      ratsaka.eugene - 2012-07-18 19:43

      Mandela was pain in the gat for the likes of 'Verwoerd se ma se hare' en hulle, Juju is a pain gat for the current neo-Nazis, so sorry Mr Chaplin, sorry I mean Mr Dumbwin, he's beaten you to the race. Lol

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-07-18 20:33

      So are you saying that you won't vote for me???

      keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-07-19 06:56

      You couldn't be any worse.

  • kolobe.mzansi.9 - 2012-07-18 19:23

    am just surprised how local claim to like him after they jailed him for 27 years, worse for fighting an apartheid government

      ken.rowe.509 - 2012-07-18 19:25

      Ask De Klerk.

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-07-18 19:29

      Kolobe, if found guilty, criminals are usually imprisoned. But our country is better today for having worked through our difficult times.

      mantsho.tlali - 2012-07-18 19:46

      You need to educate yourself properly, not all whites were racist during the Apartheid, there were whites who were helping ANC to bring Apartheid rigime down,do you know that one of Mandela's co accused was a white man, so please do Mandela proud and stop spreading hatred. We need to be united to build our messy country.

      jason.sole.92 - 2012-07-18 20:19

      hey kolobe in 94 at age 18 my first vote was for black ppl to be able to vote, my second in the national election was for madiba so gfy.

  • Gerhard1Marais - 2012-07-18 20:04

    Platform form for Propaganda I told you.

  • Zeezoh - 2012-07-18 20:15

    unwele ulude tata!!!!!

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-07-18 20:32

      Hmmm, I think you just said, 'I traded my wheels in for a Tata'. Am I right? Which model did you get? 16 or 18 hundred?

      theWatchman - 2012-07-19 11:23

      @ Charles, ignorance is just unacceptable!

  • Brandon - 2012-07-18 20:25

    Swak. To everyone.

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-07-18 20:31

      Yo Bran, when the heck are you going to write something again? Just do it, join us. Why not?

      Lennon Chenga - 2012-07-18 21:24

      Lol!! Charles u crack me up!!

  • Bless Boswell - 2012-07-18 20:33

    I would have thought they would at least have given South Africans the opportunity to manufacture the goods.

  • helmut.smrz - 2012-07-18 20:34

    It was a nice day until you guy''''''''''''''''s screwed it up

  • malusi.shumane.7 - 2012-07-18 20:34

    Where is that Apartheid president called De Klerk? Is he jealous that he stayed in bed the whole day?

  • celeste.hayes.56 - 2012-07-18 20:39

    Disgusting that not only Madiba but all the heroes that fought for this beautiful country in those years and suffered great indignities etc probably look back today and wonder what they gave their lives up for with just corruption and crime left. My heart bleeds for all of them.

  • Nicky van der Vlies - 2012-07-18 20:41

    f@ck mandela day theres more important things to worry bout! idiots!

  • ricus.nieuwoudt.9 - 2012-07-18 21:14

    I don't want anything to do with Mandela yet I had the privilege of being able to meet him on numerous occasions at a house in Bryanston where I met the previous Presidents of Zambia and had lunch and dinner in their presence, I just decided not to escort my father and rather stayed home. After his term the promise of a Democratic Society which had proposedly been created has faltered and is currently non-existent! And with BEE having been implemented and Whites having lost their Jobs due to that it has made the ANC the most racist party ever!

  • Lacrimose - 2012-07-18 21:45

    One depressing thing I heard on the radio driving home; ALLEGEDLY the people of Qunu had no party, no celebration for the people and were banished from their own village due to draconian security.

  • mandy - 2012-07-19 11:36

    Lets look at the good the brand can do

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