At bookstores across the worried South African nation, stands have gone up to highlight the legacy of the former political prisoner who became South Africa’s first black president.

MADIBA Sells: A man wearing a T-shirt showing Nelson Mandela takes part in a prayer ceremony outside the African National Congress building. Pic/AFP

Shopper Amanda Coetzee grabbed a copy of Mandela’s definitive Long Walk to Freedom. “I am kind of ashamed because I had never read it, after all those years,” she said.

While the 94-year-old peace icon is fighting for his life in a hospital in Pretoria, new book supplies have been ordered.

Similar scenes are playing out in the nearby upmarket Sandton business centre, where many tourists pass through on a visit to Johannesburg.

Bookstores and shops are seeing brisk sales of souvenirs, books and shirts bearing Mandela’s iconic features.

At the Jacana curio store , a new shipment of merchandise has just arrived.

“We get these T-shirts every year before Mandela’s birthday,” on July 18, saleswoman Shana Melansky said.

Nearby, onlookers gazed at a giant six-metre bronze statute depicting a dancing Mandela which was unveiled in 2003.