Think we will ever get money with Obama’s face imprinted on it? Well, South Africa just put former president Nelson Mandela on its money. The country just released the new currency on the 22nd anniversary of his release from prison after serving 27 years for his opposition to white-minority rule.
The banknotes bear the image of the anti-apartheid leader, who is now 94 years old and rarely appears in public. In 1994, he became South Africa’s first black president, affectionately called by his clan name “Madiba,”and remains a symbol of freedom, human rights and democracy. Also on the notes are South Africa’s “big five” wild animals — rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard.
According to The Chicago Tribune, Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus said, “Madiba does represent something special not just in South Africa but in the world. He is really an extraordinary man and this is a way in which we pay tribute to him.” The idea had first been introduced earlier this year, with the image above presented at that time.
Mandela’s name and image have been used for many things since he left office in 1999, making him a bonafide brand. But not every product has been to his liking. Soon after the launch of 466/64 Apparel (466/64 was Mandela’s Robben Island prisoner ID number) last summer, the Nelson Mandela Foundation in North America issued a statement that Mandela had nothing to do with the clothing brand. The label claimed to be a Nelson Mandela-approved line. In later clarifications, the label said it was “inspired” by Mandela.