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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?