South Africa's first black president Nelson Mandela is to become a comic strip hero in a new project aimed at encouraging young people to read, his charity foundation said.
"We are harnassing comics to get across the message and the values of Mr Mandela," John Samuel, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said Thursday.
One million copies of each of the seven comic strips depicting Mandela's life will be distributed in newspapers and schools across South Africa as part of events celebrating the ex-president's 87th birthday on July 18.
"Comics are an extremely useful way of bringing young people into reading," said Samuel. "Comics in fact are a very powerful vehicle for introducing literature, various aspects of reading to young people."
"And this is our objective here," he told a news conference.
Samuel dismissed a suggestion that the world's most revered statesman should not be reduced to a comic figure.
"It would take a lot more than comics to demean his stature," said Samuel. "That's the least of our problems."
Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for opposing apartheid before becoming president in 1994, won a court order in May to stop a former confidant from selling fake artwork bearing his name.
Mandela is to spend his 87th birthday with his wife Graca Machel, the wife of former Mozambican president Samora Machel, his three daughters, grand-children and great-grandchildren, at his home in the Eastern Cape village of Qunu.
demean: to debase, as in dignity or social standing（贬低身份）