'Mandela' lives on as respected legacy - and commercial brand

'Mandela' lives on as respected legacy - and commercial brand

JOHANNESBURG - One of the world's most revered names, "Mandela" has also become a money-spinning brand that some fear may be abused and devalued by the very people supposed to protect it - his heirs.

The man hailed for his selflessness and sacrifice had pointedly stated during his lifetime that he did not wish to be linked to commercial products.

Yet in the last months of his life, feuds broke out among his close associates and family members over using the Mandela name to sell everything from wine to art - at times grabbing such attention the spats threatened to overshadow reflections on the great man himself.

In financial terms, experts expect the Mandela brand to shoot through the roof now that the revered statesman has died.

"It is only natural that now, when the inevitable laws of nature have taken the first democratically-elected South African president from our midst, people want to have at least a small token as a reminder of the great man," Jaco Jonker, chief executive officer of the online auction site bidorbuy, told AFP.

T-shirts, flags, caps and badges bearing the Mandela likeness and name have been selling wildly at sidewalk stalls since Mandela - also lovingly known as Tata (father) and Madiba (his clan name) -died on December 5, aged 95

Booksales have soared, and the bidorbuy online auction site reported a "phenomenal" rise in demand for Mandela-related products - with 378 items sold on each of the first three days after his death, compared to a usual daily average of about 60.

Grey zone

Who owns the rights on products bearing the Mandela image or name, however, is somewhat of a grey zone.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, a charity created by the revered statesman, has 18 registered trademarks "to provide a legal instrument for acting against inappropriate use of Madiba's name and image", Verne Harris, head of the foundation's Centre of Memory, told AFP.

"The primary rationale for the registrations is... to prevent commercial exploitation."

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