News / Africa

South Africans Hold Day of Service to Honor Mandela

Members from the South African correctional service repair a wall at a school where former South African President Nelson Mandela went as a child as they celebrate his birthday in Qunu, South Africa, Wednesday, July 18, 2012.Members from the South African correctional service repair a wall at a school where former South African President Nelson Mandela went as a child as they celebrate his birthday in Qunu, South Africa, Wednesday, July 18, 2012.
x
Members from the South African correctional service repair a wall at a school where former South African President Nelson Mandela went as a child as they celebrate his birthday in Qunu, South Africa, Wednesday, July 18, 2012.
Members from the South African correctional service repair a wall at a school where former South African President Nelson Mandela went as a child as they celebrate his birthday in Qunu, South Africa, Wednesday, July 18, 2012.
JOHANNESBURG — Nelson Mandela turned 94 Wednesday and all over South Africa, it is a day of celebration and service in the former president’s name.  
 
Mandela Day is a relatively new tradition in South Africa. People are asked to take 67 minutes out of their day to volunteer. The number is 67 because that is how many years Mr. Mandela fought for civil rights.
 
Sello Hatang, spokesman for the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, says the day is about honoring Mandela’s legacy by continuing his work.
 
“The significance of the day is in response to Madiba’s call, which he made in 2008 in London, where he was saying to all of us it’s time for new hands to carry the baby, it’s time for new leadership to carry the struggle forward. And to ensure that we build a much more caring world, where we can fight inequality and poverty. Not as a gesture of charity, but as a call of justice," he said. 
 
  • Nelson Mandela smiles for photographers at his home in Johannesburg September 22, 2005.
  • Nelson Mandela and his then wife, Winnie, salute well-wishers as he leaves Victor Verster prison on Feb. 11, 1990.
  • This undated photograph shows Nelson Mandela and his former wife, Winnie.
  • South African State President Frederik Willem de Klerk and Deputy President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela prior to talks, Cape Town, May 2, 1990.
  • Nelson Mandela, is seen as he gives the black power salute to 120,000 ANC supporters in Soweto's Soccer City stadium, Feb. 13, 1990.
  • Then-African National Congress President Nelson Mandela salutes the crowd in Galeshewe Stadium near Kimberley, South Africa, Feb. 25, 1994.
  • Nelson Mandela and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II ride in a carriage outside Buckingham Palace on the first day of a state visit to Britain, July 9, 1996.
  • President Nelson Mandela and Britain's Prince Charles shake hands alongside members of the Spice Girls, Nov. 1, 1997.
  • Former U.S President Bill Clinton and former South African President Nelson Mandela speak during a Gala night in Westminster Hall, London, July 2, 2003.
  • Oscar winning South African actress Charlize Theron weeps at her meeting with former South African President Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, March 11,2004.
  • Nelson Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, wave to the audience during a Live 8 concert in Johannesburg, July 2, 2005.
  • Nelson Mandela jokes with youngsters as they celebrate his 89th birthday at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in Johannesburg, July 24, 2007.
  • Former South African president Nelson Mandela, center, followed by his grandson Mandla Mandela, rear right, arrives at the ceremony in Mvezo, South Africa, April 16, 2007.
  • Nelson Mandela waves to the media as he arrives outside 10 Downing Street, London, August 28, 2007.
  • Nelson Mandela waves as he arrives to attend the 2010 World Cup football final Netherlands vs. Spain on July 11, 2010 at Soccer City stadium in Soweto.
  • Nelson Mandela poses for a photograph after receiving a torch to celebrate the African National Congress' centenary in his home village Qunu, May 30, 2012.
(Click to View the Photo Gallery)
In Johannesburg, there were hundreds of projects around the city, from sprucing up schools, to working with the elderly, or cleaning up the city.
 
At the Braamfontein Spruit, Tina Sekhu was helping clean up refuse with her co-workers from Nedbank.

“This is actually humbling to see a lot of people committing to different initiatives and actually making the 67 minutes to make a difference. I’m very honored to actually participate," she said. 
 
Vusi Khanyile, the Chairman of Thebe Investment Corporation in Rosebank, says his company is taking on a project of helping build a library in the township Orlando West and donated books to the Mandela Foundation. But his employees are making individual efforts as well.
 
“In my personal case, I’m going to be taking time off from the company.  I’m not going to be here this afternoon, as I’m going to be meeting with a young man that I’m going to be sponsoring and mentoring through university. He comes from the rural areas. He had a string of distinctions from the most impoverished school in the area and is starting at Wits [University in Johannesburg]. And I’m going to be walking the path with him through his university career," he said. 
 
While the day is an opportunity to serve others, some say it is an important step in moving forward with a new legacy for the country.
 
Nzima, who studies management at the University of Johannesburg, says the country must keep progressing and not get complacent standing in Mr. Mandela’s shadow.

“People have found a comfort zone and haven’t actually tried to soul search and enhance their abilities to become the next great thing in the world. I find it very true that as people here in South Africa, we don’t actually go out there and make our lives the best for other people, not only for ourselves but for actually other people that are out there," he said. 
 
Stuart Hoy, who organized the clean-up of Braamfontein Spruit, says the day is a great call to action and for leadership.
 
“I don’t think there’s anyone nearly close to Madiba that is filling the space that his legacy will leave. We need a million of them. The thing that I love, and Madiba said this in his inauguration speech, was we’re all meant to shine as children do. And people hang around in the shadows, and it’s a very South African thing where we don’t do something in case someone tells us something is wrong or chops us down," he said. "We need a million Madibas, there’s space for that. There’s space for every South African to do something which is awesome. And this is small, you know?”
 
Khanyile, the executive in Rosebank, says the day needs to become an essential part of the national calendar.
 
"A country needs to build shared traditions … the Madiba legacy is one such important common tradition for South Africans. Irrespective of what race or religion or political ideology you supported before our democratic change, Madiba became an instrument and a symbol for the coming together for the different streams that make up South Africa," he said. 
 
Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and Nobel Peace Prize winner, spent the day quietly in his home village of Qunu. He no longer appears in public but his activism is here on full display. 

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Michael Harris from: New York, NY
July 20, 2012 5:26 PM
Very informative article ... It is instrumental in helping to get the word out about Mandela Day and to help ensure this selfless man's legacy will thrive. We need more insightful journalism reporting such as this and less info-tainment masquerading as important news.


by: RGG from: London
July 18, 2012 1:53 PM
What's his legacy? How about, African leaders should not be held accountable for their actions? Well..... unless they're white.


by: Anonymous
July 18, 2012 1:42 PM
Happy BirthDay Mandela!


by: John from: Big Bear, Calif. USA
July 18, 2012 1:28 PM
It is really sad that people are so divided and so much has to do with thier religious views. How nice it would be to live your life and let others live their lives as well without screaming that only one religion is right. Very pathetic. Mandella is a man of peace and a coming together. We need more like him....love is a path to walk...hate is the absolute total of stupidity and cowardace

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid