Nelson Mandela, who has died at home in johannesburg, South Africa
Nelson Mandela, who died at home in Johannesburg, South Africa

Nelson Mandela showed the world the power and value of forgiveness - so let us take this valuable lesson and excuse his taste in zany shirts.

Mandela - or Madiba as he's affectionately known in South Africa - exerted huge influence on the world stage. He was the epitome of the great statesman in everything but his dress sense.

His fashion statements never caught on among other national leaders who still play it safe with suit and tie or muted national dress. But Mandela was always his own man. Surely it's time to introduce Mandela Shirt Day at the United Nations.

Mandela is believed to have developed his love for Indonesian-style batik patterned shirts in 1990, when he visited Indonesia shortly after becoming South Africa's first black president.

Mandela loved the shirts so much that two designers were employed to come up with designs for him, South African Desre Buirski and Indonesian Iwan Tirta. In South Africa, the shirts have come to be known as Madiba shirts.

Following his death aged 95 at home in the Houghton suburb of Johannesburg, we take a respectful look at the Mandela wardrobe. His legacy will live on, but will any future world leader ever have the courage to brighten up international diplomacy with shirts like these?

1. The shirt's so bright that Archbishop Desmond Tutu has to wear shades

Nelson Mandela wearing a shirt to bring out the vari-focal tint in Desmond Tutu's glasses PIC: Reuters
Nelson Mandela wearing a shirt to bring out the varifocal tint in Desmond Tutu's glasses PIC: Reuters

2. South Africa is the rainbow nation and this shirt proves it

Nelson Mandela in a patterned shirt
Nelson Mandela in a patterned shirt inspired by oriental design PIC: Reuters

3. This shirt doesn't stand out so much as blend in to the filigree background

This shirt of Nelson Mandela doesn't stick out as much as blend in to the background PIC: Reuters
This shirt of Nelson Mandela doesn't stick out as much as blend in to the filigree background PIC: Reuters

4. Bill Gates in geek chic, Mandela in Technicolor

This lime green effort stands out even in Nelson Mandela's wardrobe PIC: Reuters
Who's the cool one? PIC: Reuters

5. Who is accessorising whom?

Could the source of Nelson Mandela's style inspiration be revealed PIC: Reuters
Could the source of Nelson Mandela's style inspiration be revealed? PIC: Reuters

6. A collector's item: Mandela in a suit

Nelson Mandela in a suit with Yasser Arafat PIC: Reuters
Nelson Mandela in a suit with Yasser Arafat PIC: Reuters

7. Wow! Who else could carry this off?

Nelson Mandela goes green in this shirt PIC: reuters
Nelson Mandela goes green PIC: reuters

8. This dazzling number almost outshines the Fifa World Cup

Nelson Mandela and Fifa President Sepp Blatter PIC: Reuters
Nelson Mandela and Fifa president Sepp Blatter PIC: Reuters

9. An oriental theme is emerging in Mandela's fashion sense

Nelson Mandela having a laugh in this vivid pattern PIC: Reuters
Nelson Mandela having a laugh in this vivid pattern PIC: Reuters

10. Silver surfer Mandela sports Chinese birds on a grid rendered in silver. A man apart, indeed

Nelson Mandela with former president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda PIC: Reuters
Nelson Mandela with former president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda PIC: Reuters

10+1. Bye bye Mandela. His name will live on, as will the memory of those shirts

Farewell Mandela you certainly shall be missed, you shirts probably won't PIC: Reuters
Farewell Mandela PIC: Reuters