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

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs