The Mandelas’ Wine Toast: From Their “House” to Ours
An elegant, warm VIP reception for Dr. Makaziwe Mandela, daughter of global icon and South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela, and Tukwini Mandela, his granddaughter, was hosted by Edmun Braithwaite, Joyce Turner and Michael Lambert, representing the 375-plus member Bedford-Stuyvesant Business Improvement District (BID), Gateway in between Bedford-Stuyvesant and Business last Friday, Oct. 18 at Restoration Corporation.
The women, who previously visited New York last winter to introduce their House of Mandela Wines, were presented the award that was to have been presented at last month’s stellar Toast of Brooklyn.
“There is a lot of synergy between wine and our family. But when you look at how the vine grows, the vine doesn’t grow in a straight line. It twists and turns, representing the twists and turns of life. Life is not a straight line. What we are proud of is that out of adversity we helped create a wonderful experience.”
House of Mandela wines promotes Fair Trade and worker education, health and empowerment. They also are hoping to build their country’s fine-wine industry for black South Africans.
Once the business is profitable, they plan to donate from 5 to 15 percent of the proceeds to charitable efforts related to education, health, agriculture and alternative energy in South Africa.
“The history of the wine industry in South Africa is really white male-dominated. Very few blacks have entered the industry, and very few women,” Makaziwe Mandela has said. South Africa’s wine industry is valued at more than $3 billion and employs about 450,000 South African workers. Unfortunately, fewer than 2 percent of the exported wines were made by black South Africans, said Selena Cuffe, president of Mandela’s U.S. importer, Heritage Link Brands.
The concept for the House of Mandela company is rooted in the Mandela family history. They are using their family totem symbol, the bee, on their product as a way to tell the story of their family through the House of Mandela. Of note, it is reported that when Nelson Mandela was released from prison and returned to his ancestral home, he was followed from the airport by a swarm of bees, as a welcoming. They revealed to reception guests — which included Councilman Al Vann, Restoration CEO & President Colvin Grannum, Congressman Hakim Jeffries, Assemblywoman Annette Robinson, Councilwoman Letitia James, presumptive District 36 Councilman Robert Cornegy – that the House of Mandela product was also a way of sharing some of the values “inherited from the ancestors” that shaped the life of their great patriarch and his family.
The labels on the Thembu wines are inspired by the dashiki shirts that Mandela preferred as a leader.
“Our intention is to showcase the best of what South Africa has to offer and, in a sense, of what Africa has to offer,” Dr. Makaziwe said. “Africa is not just about poverty, not just about wars, not just a dark continent—it is a very bright, warm continent that can produce the best of what the world wants.”