Mandela day and corporatised activism

Great article from Gillian Schutte on Thought Leader about Mandela Day:

While every other black leader in a post-1994 South Africa has been constructed as an inferior “other” by the dominant discourse, Nelson Mandela has been deified as a saintly black and is held in high esteem by whiteness. He has been hailed as a decent and rational African by the moderate liberal white discourse and thus relegated the status of “the most like a white person” worthy of becoming a signifier for white decency and humanity. He has been acknowledged as a human being while Jacob Zuma, as an example, remains a “primitive” — often depicted as oversexed, indecent and just plain stupid.

These white constructions of blackness say more about our society than we care to admit — and the religiosity afforded Madiba by well-heeled whites speaks volumes about the morally assumed and systemic supremacy whiteness still holds in South Africa. This religiosity comes to life on Mandela Day, which takes place annually and plays out like a yearly church service in which the messianic effigy of Mandela is worshiped in a type of feel good marketing frenzy with “charitable giving” at the centre of it.

By looking back in history at the construct of whiteness we will understand how Mandela Day becomes a neocolonial exercise premised on beliefs about what white and black signifies to the larger white imaginary. In fact Mandela Day has become an exercise in white missionary saviour behaviour in which whites can showcase their “good” side for the “good” of those less fortunate than themselves. It is through the Mandela construct that whites reaffirm their transcendent selves.

Read the full article here

 The article draws quite a lot of controversy in the comments. My view is, the article is not so much about Nelson Mandela himself, rather his portrayal in the media. Therefore, I would tend to agree with her analysis.

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