Is Media Coverage of Nelson Mandela's Illness Racist?

Two people hold hands where former South African leader Nelson Mandela is hospitalized. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)

In examining media coverage of Nelson Mandela's illness through the eyes of his eldest daughter, the Independent's Minna Salami concludes that race and matters of ethics are not as separate as they seem. People have repeatedly disrespected him by reporting his early demise, she says, because he is African.

In an interview on South African Broadcast Television, SABC last Thursday, Makaziwe Mandela, Nelson Mandela's daughter, accused foreign media of behaving badly in order to get the latest on her father's situation.

"It's truly like vultures," she said, "waiting when a lion has devoured the buffalo, waiting there, you know, for the last carcasses. That's the image that we have as a family. And we don't mind the interest, but I just think it has gone overboard."

She also stated that there was a "racist element" to the way that foreign media are crossing boundaries. "I don't want to say this, but I'm going to say it. There is sort of a racist element with many of the foreign media where they just cross boundaries."

Mandela's eldest daughter went on to compare the situation to Margaret Thatcher's passing, querying why we didn't see a similar kind of media frenzy in Thatcher's case. "Is it because we are an African country that people just feel they can't respect any laws of this country, that they can violate everything in the book? I just think it's in bad taste. It's crass. […] Tata deserves his privacy […] If people say that they really care about Nelson Mandela, then they should respect that."


Read Minna Salami's entire piece at the Independent.

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