Mandelaism in newspaper advertising that ‘pays tribute’ to Mandela after his death

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    Abstract: Celebrated, Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela’s death in 2013 saw an outpouring of local and global grief and emotion. This reflected how Mandela became iconized as a popular cultural and political symbol for human rights, political messiah-hood, sainthood, dignity, peace and forgiveness. Even Mandela attempted to deflect and qualify this iconisation. Taking critical views into account, we propose ‘Mandelaism’ as a term to describe the cultural practices and sign systems that surround and mythologize Mandela, intermeshing with, feeding into and parasitically drawing on patriotic sentiments. Mandelaism magically invokes powers and forms of what Mbembe (2001: 25) calls the commandement – to conflate and inflate often weak notions and practices of the right. Popularly, these powers are invoked for nation building. However Mandelaism is also tightly associated with self-serving machinations that deform and weaken this right which legitimates it. This study explores advertisements from selected national English-language newspapers published in the two weeks that followed his death, subjecting them to a semiotic analysis. It thereby aims to recognize aspects of Mandelaism and of the parasite behaviors which we claim are appended to it. The unprecedented scale of the news-event that was Mandela death and funeral assures that the study is set in one of the greatest known nationalistic imaginariums.