Brand squabbles taint dignity of Mandela birthday celebrations

 

Africa Correspondent

As Nelson Mandela turned 94 today and tributes poured in from around the world, an unseemly squabble continued among the former president’s relatives who are trying to put a commercial value on the anti-apartheid icon.

Those wanting to celebrate his birthday with a little “humanitarian shopping” have a choice of two clothing brands, canvas shoes, as well as unauthorised clocks, commemorative coins, mugs and a fast food chain.

Click here or on "View Gallery" for Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures

The longer “Madiba”, as he is known to South Africans, has lived, the less dignified the attempts to cash in on his legacy have become. The Nobel Peace prize-winner has largely retreated from the public eye in the last four years and spent yesterday at his family home in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape.

In his absence, rows over the use of his name and image have been frequent. His ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela set the birthday season arguments in motion earlier this month complaining that his name is being exploited. She attacked the ruling ANC’s “shabby treatment” of the family in an unverified leaked email. Her complaints drew a sharp response from newspapers friendly to the government: “Nelson Mandela is a product of the ANC, and the party is right to highlight that link whenever necessary,” said an editorial in the Citizen daily. “Winnie, as result of her own choices, is a less valuable brand.”

Meanwhile, two competing clothing chains have emerged seeking to exploit the Mandela brand. The fashion label 46664 – his prisoner ID number during his internment on Robben Island – launched a new range to coincide with his birthday which covered its humanitarian bases by calling on US shoppers to offer 67 minutes of volunteer work in honour of Mr Mandela. Zenani Mandela, one of his five children, launched her own clothing line named after his autobiography “The Long Walk to Freedom”.

The older label has prided itself on not using Madiba’s name or face on its clothes: “We are not allowed to commercialise Nelson Mandela,” the 46664 label’s CEO Wayne Bebb said earlier this week. “We do not use his image in any of our clothing. You will see very, very rarely any image of him in our marketing campaign.”

The 94-year-old’s daughter has no such qualms and their line of products launched last week in Johannesburg is plastered with her father’s name and image. Nonetheless she insists that they’re not in competition with the not-for-profit: “Our brand is different,” she told reporters. “Ours is a family brand and we’re not in competition with 46664.”

The ugliest row over Mr Mandela came in February this year when his grandson Mandla was accused during divorce proceedings of having sold the rights to his funeral to local and domestic broadcasters. The younger Mandela denied any deal was in place. Hearings continue and his estranged wife Tando Mabuna-Mandela insisted she could not bear to profit from the national hero’s death and would give her half of any proceeds to charity.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital