Madiba For Sale?

Now that the hoohah over Madiba’s birthday is slowly fading I thought it might be safe for me to revisit this issue that I tackled in my article; Madiba, Celebrity Brand. In the article I raise my concern about the legacy that Nelson Mandela will leave this great nation being tainted by commercial greed. I felt that his over-exposure in the name of charity by the Nelson Mandela Foundation was reducing his iconic stature to just being a celebrity. 

Last week though I was appalled by the word COPYRIGHT creeping up everytime the name Mandela was mentioned. Firstly, how do you copyright a public figure? Not only is this blatantly immoral it is also an insult to the legacy of the man and the nation. 

It’s no secret that everybody who’s got means to do so is trying to milk the Mandela name for all it’s worth but COPYRIGHTing it. I think this is taking the greed thing around the man a bit too far. 

Yes there are unscrupulous people out there who might exploit the Mandela name for their own personal gain and on that I totally agree that there should be some form of control over the use of the brand Madiba. 


If it is true that the name Madiba is copyrighted and any use of his image and name should be approved first by the foundation then it means Mandela is nothing but a product. The name Nelson Mandela is symbolic of the struggle of black people and it’s bigger than just being the man’s name to this nation. 

Yes the Mandela family and the foundation own the human being; Mandela but I do not think they should lay claim to what the name represents by putting sanctions around the name. Without many people who lost their lives to the struggle the name Mandela would mean nothing. 

Without Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and many others behind Nelson Mandela, his name would be just like any name in this nation’s history of apartheid.

As a South African, a black South African, an admirer of Mr Mandela… I am disappointed that anyone in his immediate employ would allow this atrocity to happen. 

Mandela is about FREEDOM… freedom of expression, freedom of being without any obstructions from your fellow beings. Mandela (Pty Ltd) is about money. If Themba in a township admirers Tata so much that he is making sculptures in his image, should he now have to go ask permission before he sells that; that to me is not what heroes should be associated with.

For me the name Mandela is like our national flag. It deserves respect yet it’s wrong for anyone to lay sole claim to it. Nelson Mandela is South Africa and South Africa is Nelson Mandela. 

Nelson - the man, is without a doubt a father of this nation. He did not biologically father us all but he is our father. Every revolution needs a hero and Nelson Mandela is our hero. If you deny the people the freedom to love him and express that appreciation in any form they want then the name would not be worth the paper it’s written on in history books. 

Can my little nephew now share his drawings of Madiba with his friends without us having to worry about being sued?



Why do I suddenly feel like I am in Korea or China? Heroes do not copyright their images only tyrants do that. Nelson Mandela is a hero to our people. We should feel free to express our love for him anyway we like. 

If Che Guevera can belong to the world why can’t Mandela belong to South Africa? Is this really about protecting the name of the man or just trying to cash in on royalties? Is this why we have the Mandela Statue in Sandton instead of Diepsloot? Afterall our people can not afford to flock in “donations” for the foundation.


I am so disappointed at this that I am actually thinking maybe we should find someone else to represent our history. There are plenty of remarkable individuals who would fill Madiba's post as the Icon of The Struggle perfectly. 

They can keep Nelson Mandela, we will find someone like Steve Biko. This is sad as Nelson is a humble man but his name is being used in this disheartening manner. Please stop tainting Madiba's legacy!

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