For the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the month of August revolved around the 19th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture and our continuing relief work aimed at ensuring recovery for affected areas in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng after the wave of public violence in July. These two initiatives spoke to one another in so many ways.
The Lecture was delivered by former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, who highlighted the importance of the rule of law globally and spelled out its potential contribution to ensuring sustainable development. Like the speaker at the 18th Lecture, UN Secretary-General Gutteres, she called for a new, liberatory social contract and argued that without it the rule of law would be a chimera. Attributes of such a contract include interdependency, solidarity, cross-sectoral collaboration, violence prevention (‘anticipatory law’) and the building of strong institutions.
For the Foundation, these are not theoretical attributes. We see them at work day after day on the ground. In KwaZulu-Natal. In Gauteng. And in all the other provinces where our Each1 Feed1 campaign has been undertaking emergency relief interventions. One story from our experience in Mpumalanga province illustrates this well.
In the early days of the first Covid hard lockdown our team encountered two vulnerable households in desperate need in the community of KaHhoyi. Gogo Lusiya Khoza lived alone in a shack – built for her by members of the community - and had been robbed of her firewood, water and a wheelbarrow by young people the night before. She was at pains to explain how vulnerable she was due to her living conditions. She had resorted to moving her water and firewood into the shack’s minute living space. She was generating a small income from her crafting work.
Nearby we encountered a child-headed home, with two orphaned children living in decrepit conditions. Nando Singwane cares as best he can for his 14-year-old younger brother. He does gardening jobs during weekends. They are both very committed to their education. They had lost their aunt a couple years before our arrival, and were on their own. They had been given assistance by their neighbour, Mme Thembisile Thobela. When we asked the boys for their top two wishes, they said food and shelter. From then our Each1 Feed1 campaign has been delivering food to them consistently.
But in August we were able to hand over proper homes to the boys and to Gogo, thus marking the end of what has been more than a year-long journey. The two houses, together with their fittings, furniture and other contents, were made possible by the combined efforts of a number of change agents working collaboratively. The Ngomane Royal family in KaHhoyi led from the front. The Nelson Mandela Foundation pushed from behind. The Collen Mashawana Foundation and the provincial department of human settlements supported the building of the new houses. Mr Jerry Mabena and his family provided the furniture. The Department of Social Development gave psychosocial support. Old Mutual made the very first visit to these two households possible and completed the circle by providing kitchenware to them at the end of the journey.
During a previous visit to the community, we went to a local school in order to top up their food supply and distribute sanitary towels. Mr Collen Mashawana was with us, and immediately made a pledge to return with support for 100 children in the school. He subsequently secured the support of Bathu for a supply of shoes. He also bought each child a school uniform. Success at school can only happen when you have your dignity respected and confidence restored.
This is social bonding in action. The Foundation is grateful to all the parties who came together to make a difference for this community in Mpumalanga. And I am indebted, as always, to the Foundation team which has been going the extra mile all through this journey.