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Pan Macmillan

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Nelson Mandela, the Record-Breaking Girl Scout Cookie Hawker?

Nelson MandelaAs a struggle-for-freedom icon, Nobel Peace Prize winner and the first president of the New South Africa, Nelson Mandela has understandably been showered with honours and accolades.

But some of them are more unusual than others, as journalist Amanda Strydom discovered, presumably while doing research for a story on Madiba. Her Mail & Guardian colleague, Verashni Pillay, picked up Strydom’s find on Twitter:

Look what @A_Strydom found in this Wiki on Mandela ‘became a girl scout & sold most cookies in girl scout history’ than a minute ago via Echofon

And sure enough, nestled in the list of awards that Pillay’s link leads us to, are two mentions of the Girl Guides / Girl Scouts:


Awarded honorary fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
Indira Gandhi Award for International Justice and Harmony bestowed. Award received by Justice Minister Dullah Omar in New Delhi, India, January
Received the World Citizenship Award of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts
U Thant Peace Award bestowed by Sri Chinmoy, 29 January
Created Knight of the Order of the Elephant by the Danish Queen Margrethe II, Copenhagen, 18 February



In July 2009, Mandela received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award presented by Venus and Serena Williams. Accepting on his behalf were his daughter and grandson.
In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly announced that Mandela’s birthday, 18 July, is to be known as ‘Mandela Day’ marking his contribution to world freedom.
In December 2009 he became a girl scout and sold the most cookies in girl scout history

At first, the notion of Madiba as a girl scout cookie hawker sounds rather implausible – but then you start to think… Who wouldn’t buy a cookie from Nelson Mandela? No one! Perhaps, then, one way or another – if he simply endorsed a variety of cookie (mmm, Lemon Chalet Cremes), or allowed his name to be associated with a cookie-selling drive – Mandela is indeed the all-time record-breaker in this regard!

(The Nelson Mandela Foundation, meanwhile, lists on its website the Girl Scouts / Girl Guides “World Citizenship Award” – though it tellingly calls the award “unconfirmed”.)

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