THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The top-selling Dutch newspaper has apologized for a story on its website that linked the death of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela with a controversial black-face character in the traditional Dutch celebration of Sinterklaas.
In the opening sentence of an article collating reactions to Mandela’s death, De Telegraaf said Friday that Mandela “died on the very night of St. Nicholas (with Black Pete).”
Black Pete is the helper of Saint Nicholas, known in the Netherlands as Sinterklaas, who brings children gifts on Dec. 5. Black Pete traditionally is portrayed by people in black-face makeup.
The character has been the focus of a fierce debate in the Netherlands recently between fans of the Sinterklaas tradition and opponents who call Black Pete a racist throwback.