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

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.