Nelson Mandela at home on his birthday. File Photo: AP

A group of young relatives of Nelson Mandela has vowed to take over the Mandela brand from non-relatives who they say have cashed in on the Mandela name.

Speaking to Weekend Argus at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu on Wednesday, his 94th birthday, one of Madiba’s grandsons, Ndaba Mandela, said: “The family will no longer be used to initiate or endorse products associated with the Mandela name. We’re going to do it ourselves.”

Ndaba is the chairman and co-founder of the Africa Rising Foundation, whose other founder is another of Mandela’s 17 grandchildren, Kweku.

He said: “The gravy train is over. Before, family members were used to endorse products and events.

“As a family, we are addressing this gravy train so many people have been on. In future, we will not participate in any products or programmes for anyone.”

He made specific mention of a gold coin series. “There are so many things. A lot of people just take. The gold coins are making millions. The family gets zero from the gold coins.”

Ndaba’s comments come after Mandela’s former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, lashed out at the ANC recently for sidelining the Mandela family and also accused others of exploiting the Mandela family.

His words also follow the launch of the Long Walk to Freedom clothing brand, championed by Mandela’s daughter Zenani and his granddaughter Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway.

A portion of the income from the range will go to Ndaba’s Africa Rising Foundation, which was launched at a 46664 concert in New York in 2009.

Ndaba said: “Our family is totally behind the new T-shirts with the theme Long Walk To Freedom launched by my cousin (Zaziwe).”

In Qunu, Ndaba was accompanied by Zaziwe’s husband, Dave Manaway, the Long Walk to Freedom clothing brand director who is a Joburg business management consultant.

At the launch of the clothing label earlier this month, Manaway was reported as saying they were selling 1 000 T-shirts a day. “Mr Mandela is aware of the clothing label and in fact one of the very first T-shirts was made for him. It is the first time the family as a whole has done something commercially,” he was quoted as saying.

When asked in Qunu which other organisations or entities they were referring to and whether the 46664 campaign was part of it, Ndaba was only prepared to say: “They know who they are.”

The 46664 organisation, launched in 2002, was initially started to promote Mandela’s global HIV/Aids awareness campaign, but has since spread out and partnered with various companies to create various income streams, including the 46664 fashion brand in partnership with clothes manufacturer Seardel, which was launched in New York this year.

During the interview with Weekend Argus, Ndaba read out parts of an SMS sent to him by a well-wisher: “Mandela’s name can be destroyed by those who use his name for personal gain and glory,” he read, before vowing to put an end to that.

[email protected]

Weekend Argus