The commodification of Nelson Mandela17/03/2011 # 09:25 # Express - current affairs # 3 Comments
Former President Nelson Mandela’s prison number 46664 is now a clothing label. This does not only translate to the commodification and commercialization of Nelson Mandela and his legacy but ‘crony capitalism’ in the guise of the pursuit of a ‘development agency’ that will distribute funds to the needy. Before you castigate me for the misuse of the term, please hear me out.
According to the Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Achmat Dangor, Mandela’s name and his images will not be used in the clothing line. BUT, the image of his hand will be seen. “Golf shirts and jerseys carry a small embroidered upheld palm symbolizing Mandela’s hand and alluding to his challenge at the 46664 London concert in 2008 for ‘new hands be found to lift the burden’”, according to Dangor in an Associated Press (AP) article last week. Need I say more?
On top of that, celebrities will be used as brand ambassadors. Personally, I find the relationship between the foundation and U2’s Bono a cause of concern. The relationship seems to have brewed a tit-for-tat relationship with long-term benefits. We all know that Bono supported the 46664 HIV/AIDS campaign with his performances for the cuase. And now the foundation has joined with a clothing line founded by Bono and his wife to launch the new 46664 Apparel line.
Not only is this philanthropical project elitist in its stature and conduct but it also fuels the social exclusion and injustices that the foundation tries to curb. According to the same AP report, “… many South Africans will not be able to afford the clothing. When the brand is launched in South Africa in August, a T-shirt will cost about 180 rand ($26). A man’s collared shirt runs about 600 rand ($86). A quarter of South Africa’s work force is unemployed. The minimum monthly wage for a farm worker is 1,300 rand (less than $200)”. I personally feel that some of the clothes should be made affordable to the poor and be included in raising funds for the destitute.
It is the rich and the West who will benefit – off to the RESCUE once again folks!!!!!!