New Mandela banknotes spark debate

Nkanyiso Madondo's depiction of what he thinks the South African banknotes should look like.
Nkanyiso Madondo's depiction of what he thinks the South African banknotes should look like.
Image: Supplied

The new commemorative banknotes celebrating the late president Nelson Mandela's centenary have sparked a debate on whether other Struggle stalwarts are being snubbed.

Artist Nkanyiso Madondo stirred the hornet's nest after the SA Reserve Bank released the new Mandela notes.

He came up with an artist's impression of what the local currency should look like.

Madondo, who describes himself as a self-taught pencil artist, drew new bank notes with the faces of other Struggle stalwarts, including Oliver Tambo, Steve Biko, Chris Hani and Walter Sisulu.

The 22-year-old said it would be fair to have Biko on the R10, Tambo on the R20, Hani on the R50 and Sisulu on the R100 bank notes.

"I thought to myself that Mandela didn't fight alone. He fought with others, so why are we not respecting others?

"I searched for the top five Struggle icons and found Steve Biko, Chris Hani and others," Madondo said.

Madondo said he was worried that history was not being represented fully and that some leaders were overlooked.

"The idea was to have other heroes who fought for our freedom because kids today don't know other leaders that fought in the Struggle," he said.

"We are always focused on Mandela. I don't have anything against Mandela but I thought it would be fair to show the others and then I came up with the drawing."

Madondo, who was born in Imbali in KwaZulu-Natal, fell in love with pencil drawing at the tender age of six.

He started taking his gift seriously when one of his friends was running for an SRC position at his school and asked him to draw a portrait he could use to canvass for votes.

To Madondo's surprise, his peers loved the portrait so much that he was inundated with requests for more.

Deputy public protector Kevin Malunga said he agreed with the view to recognise other leaders.

"Nelson Mandela himself was opposed to hogging the spotlight and claiming all the glory for a collective effort.

The new Mandela R20 banknote.
The new Mandela R20 banknote.
Image: African Reserve Bank

"As people celebrate 100 years of Mandela they should be careful not to over-worship him and undermine the contributions of others," he said.

The SA Reserve Bank said it wanted to "encourage people to pass on the values of service and respect during the moment of money exchange" that Madiba espoused.

"None of us are perfect; we all have our flaws, but Madiba was a man who always tried to live by his values.

"Let's celebrate his 100th birthday by remembering the values that live within us all," it said.

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