'Some quite grotesque' - Here are some of the weirdest presents given to Nelson Mandela
A bizarre three-armed bronze of Dr Martin Luther King‚ gifted by former American first lady Michelle Obama‚ is among the strange presents that were given to late statesman Nelson Mandela.
So is a bust of Madiba in papier-mache‚ painted gold‚ that was created by a prisoner in Johannesburg. These are being highlighted by Curiosity‚ a magazine produced under the auspices of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg‚ which states there a vault at the Mandela Foundation that houses "Madiba Art".
“Value is subjective. Some of it is fantastic‚ some quite grotesque‚” the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Verne Harris was quoted as saying.
Our archives show that Mandela at least got to enjoy several sweet treats as gifts‚ including in July 1999 when late pop star Michael Jackson arrived with a personalised birthday cake for Madiba. The singer spent the big day with Mandela‚ Graca Machel and 40 children‚ grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Other gifts from famous Mandela fans include a yellow and black pottery bowl from former British prime minister Tony Blair‚ which Madiba was reported to have loved‚ as well as cigars and rum from Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
In 2010‚ when South Africa hosted the Soccer World Cup‚ there was no surprise at what was at the top of his present list - vuvuzelas.
Gifts from ordinary South Africans were often children's hand-drawn paintings‚ as well as items suitable for an elderly gentleman such as socks and blankets. In the mid-2000s‚ a Roodeport woman made a sand painting in a bottle of the view of Table Mountain from Robben Island‚ using sand from the island.
Madiba's response to that was not publicly recorded. We also wonder what his unguarded response was to a "gift" from supermodel Naomi Campbell: In April 2000‚ she announcing she was stripping for GQ magazine on condition that her payment went to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.