By Francis Ngwa Niba
The clock is ticking as anti-apartheid hero and former South African president Nelson Mandela lies on his death-bed.
South African President Jacob Zuma has postponed a foreign trip, US president Barrack Obama calls Mandela his hero (and that of millions of others) and his daughter Makaziwe Mandela labels white journalists’ racists just for doing their job. The fight over what happens to the legacy of the most iconic South African brand is getting frenetic.
The Mandela brand will survive the physical frailties and mortality of the man but questions are being asked if the brand has already been tainted while the man is still alive. What will become of the brand when he is no longer around?
His children are already fighting over who will control his legacy. Evidently, Mandela will leave a will. ( unlike reggae superstar Bob Marley who refused to write one because Rastafarians don’t believe in physical death, there are on-going court cases in Jamaica over his money)
Trouble is even assuming he leaves a will, his large clan members will still fight over his image rights, money and property he will leave behind.
The African National Congress ANC is also claiming part rights of the Mandela legacy.
When it became apparently late last year Mandela was entering the twilight of his life, ( he will be 95 soon if he manages to survive the next three weeks which I doubt) the ANC was initially unsure about what to do, whether to intrude on his privacy and reveal the details of his illness or to avoid speculation and reveal all because of the international interest in what happens to Mandela.
Following criticism, the ANC decided to consult his family and they agreed to release some of the details of his illness. Apparently, Mandela has a lung infection that his weak 94 year old body just can’t fight off.
In less than six months, Mandela has been hospitalised four times. Each time, he managed to get well enough to go back home while the world held its breath. His last admission has been the worst . It’s so bad he is on life support.
The ANC decided to be giving daily updates about his health situation and the news has been bad. ‘ Serious but stable condition’ they kept saying only a few days ago. Then things quickly deteriorated and we learnt the situation was now ‘critical’.
We were told to offer prayers to Mandela as he slips between life and death. He is not dead yet, neither is he alive.
In scenes reminiscent of the old apartheid days, the ANC youth wing mobilised hundreds of youths who have been singing and dancing outside Mandela’s home. I just love the way these South Africans dance!
Nobody knows when or how the big news of Mandela’s passing will be announced.
In the meantime, the vultures are cycling and will go into overdrive when the announcement is made.
How did Mandela manage to hang in for so long ? That’s what all real fighters do. Death is the one fight none has so far overcome. Mandela too can’t.
We still salute his fighting spirit.