News / Africa

For South Africans, a Bittersweet Birthday Celebration for Nelson Mandela

South African President Jacob Zuma, second left, in background with a bust of former South African President Nelson Mandela, center, outside Parliament before giving the State of the Nation address in the city of Cape Town, South Africa, June 17, 2014.
South African President Jacob Zuma, second left, in background with a bust of former South African President Nelson Mandela, center, outside Parliament before giving the State of the Nation address in the city of Cape Town, South Africa, June 17, 2014.
Anita Powell

For many South Africans, this year's celebration of Nelson Mandela's birthday (July 18) is bittersweet, as the statesman died last year at the age of 95. But some say that his influence still looms large in South Africa, and they will honor him Friday on his birthday.  

Friday will be the first Mandela Day to happen without its namesake. The former South African president died in December after years of declining health.

Mandela went to prison for 27 years for his opposition to the racist apartheid regime. He emerged in 1990 and was elected South Africa’s first black president in the nation’s first democratic, all-race elections. Many South Africans call him “Tata,” or father, as he is widely considered the father of today’s inclusive Rainbow Nation.

In Johannesburg, many say they plan to celebrate his life and honor his memory by volunteering. Many South Africans say they support a growing initiative to do charitable work for 67 minutes -- as the Nelson Mandela Foundation says, that’s one minute for every year Mandela gave to his struggle for equality.

South African President Jacob Zuma also has announced a nationwide effort, called Operation Clean Up for Madiba -- Madiba is Mandela’s clan name, and is often used as a sign of respect and love.

In Johannesburg, college student Mbalenhle Mankayi summed up many South Africans’ mixed feelings about this year’s celebration.

“I’m very excited although I do wish that he was still alive, you know, considering all that he’s done for this country, and they way he’s just changed the way we do things and everything," she said. "This Mandela Day I am going to be working at a charity for some children who are busy -- well, they kind of suffer in life, and I just feel that it’s within my right, considering all that I have and how blessed I am, to go to play my part in those children’s lives, yes.”

Samson Sivhada, who is a professional butler, said he has no definite plans for Mandela Day, but that he will find a way to remember Mandela and serve in his honor.

“Mandela, I would say, is an icon to so many people in the whole world and we have to be proud, as South Africans, to have a man of his caliber," he said. "Though he is late [dead] now, but they say we have to lead with [by] example, it’s the greatest example in a human being’s life, definitely.”

Businesses are also honoring the day, many with large corporate donations, free events and charitable initiatives.

On a smaller scale, entrepreneur Henry Cock, who runs a trendy restaurant and bar in Johannesburg, said his bar will earmark a portion of every drink sale on the day for Mandela’s children’s charity.

“It’s just about giving something back," he said. "Sometimes people don’t have time to literally go out and do something for 67 minutes, but I feel like every small donation to that children’s home helps, so hopefully we can make a couple of thousand rand and donate it to the children’s home and that will help a child out for a month or two or whatever.”

While the great statesman is no longer here, his spirit shines brightly over his beloved Rainbow Nation, and will be honored on Mandela Day.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs