Mandela disappointed and Mandela Day

17 Jul

Nelson Mandela.

IN A remote corner of the website run by those who look after Nelson Mandela’s affairs is a page that conveys perfectly the acute concern over the legacy of the ageing South African icon. The page is entitled ”Fraudulent Activity”.

Beloved by so many, beatified by some, the reality is that there are those who seek to profit fraudulently from association with the man who transcended politics to become a global symbol of decency. And as his passing draws nearer – he turns 93 tomorrow, obliged by frailty to largely withdraw from public life – the fear is that exploiters are circling like hyenas around an elderly lion.

Mandela’s advisers have long sought to protect his name. Ten years ago his then lawyer, Ismail Ayob, forced the closure of a Cape Town fast food shop newly opened under the tacky name of ”Nelson’s Chicken and Gravy Land”.

That same lawyer later resigned as a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Trust after being accused of profiting from the sale of memorabilia including artworks bearing Mr Mandela’s signature. Mr Ayob denied the allegations.

Even those involved in uplifting parts of the Mandela narrative have not been spared. Mr Mandela famously invited former guards from his time as a political prisoner of the apartheid regime to attend his inauguration as president in 1994. More than an act of forgiveness, it was a commitment to the new South Africa, one that is inclusive, seeing beyond ranking by colour. But when one of those guards, James Gregory, wrote a book about his experience, Goodbye Bafana: Nelson Mandela, My Prisoner, My Friend, he was accused of fabricating a close relationship with Mr Mandela.

Mr Gregory died of cancer in 2003, but recently the Nelson Mandela Foundation commissioned a South African author, Mike Nicol, to put ”the record straight”. The resulting document, ”Nelson Mandela’s Warders”, now sits on the foundation’s website, speaking to the desire to protect what might be called the Mandela brand.

There are a number of scams perpetrated in Nelson Mandela’s name, or in the name of one of his charity organisations.

These scams undermine the legacy of Nelson Mandela as well as the continued work of his charities.

Below are the scams that have been brought to the Foundation’s attention.

If you are aware of any scams being perpetrated under the name of the Nelson Mandela Foundation or its Founder please contact us on

18 July

Mandela Day

Nelson Mandela International Day is the embodiment of these efforts, with its emphasis on remembering the past, stimulating dialogue and encouraging people to act (Memory, Dialogue and Action) in order to promote social justice.

The overarching objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good. Ultimately it seeks to empower communities everywhere. “Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day.”

Individuals and organisations are free to participate in Mandela Day as they wish. We do however urge everyone to adhere to the ethical framework of “service to one’s fellow human”.

“It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all.”
Nelson Mandela, 25 June 2008 , from By Himself: The Authorised Book of Quotations

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Posted by on July 17, 2011 in Discussions


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