Meet Iain Thomas, the 36-year-old South African poet who is famous all over the world except in SA

Trevor Noah has pulled out at the last minute from hosting the MAMAs 2016, due to 'a severe upper respiratory infection'

Mandela lookalike vows to carry on legacy

2013-12-15 21:34

Qunu - Ayanda Mbatyothi, who bears a striking resemblance to a young Nelson Mandela, vowed Sunday to carry on the legacy of the icon who had unwittingly launched his career.

The 37-year-old is the spitting image of Mandela in the days before his arrest in 1962.

Mbatyothi even sounds like Mandela, and makes a living impersonating Madiba on screen.

"Madiba never forgot about the people. I will try and carry forward the very same idea," he told AFP.

"It's a big responsibility," Mbatyothi said ahead of Mandela's burial in Qunu.

He said he often caught passers-by staring at him, stopping and then turning to take a second look, before walking off perplexed.

Mandela himself was taken aback by the similarity, he recounted.

When they met for the first time at a political rally in the mid-1990s, Mbatyothi said he told the great leader: "Ah, you are my twin" in the same distinctive voice now well-known around the globe.

"Mandela turned to me and said: 'My God,' and started laughing," he recalled.

Asked to take up a Mandela boxing pose, made famous in a 1950s a black-and-white picture taken at a gym in Soweto, it is as if the photo itself comes to life and returns to colour.

A recital of Mandela's famous "I am prepared to die" speech, made in April 1964 from the dock during his treason trial, returns one to the courtroom.

Mbatyothi has portrayed the Nobel Peace Prize laureate on numerous occasions, including in a local movie and a documentary about the ANC. 

He uses his uncanny resemblance to the former president to do charity work and bring joy to others.

"Where Madiba used to have a Christmas party for young children every year, I decided to turn it around and be a young Mandela for the elderly, doing a Christmas party for them," he said with a laugh.

Mandela was buried with full military honours in a state funeral on Sunday, concluding 10 days of national mourning.

Mbatyothi said he was worried about a future without his role model.

"I'm thinking, after Mandela is gone... we don't know where this country is going to be," he said.

"But I will always try to dedicate my life to try and be more like him," Mbatyothi said, cracking a broad smile so reminiscent of he late icon.

Read more on:    nelson mandela publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Recent News

We got to hang with the KFM crew at Shimmy Beach Club for the launch of their refreshed DJ line-up. Read More »

High-energy production that blends breathtaking acrobatics and street dance, Cirque Éloize iD is making its Cape Town debut. Read More »

inside channel 24

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.