Find the Nelson Mandela within you and be the legacy he left in the world, the Nelson Mandela Foundation said on Monday 13 February.
The Foundation travelled to Soweto to launch the "Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018 Be the Legacy" campaign that will commemorate Mandela’s centenary. Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 in Mvezo, in what is now the Eastern Cape. He died on 5 December 2013.
Foundation Chief Executive Sello Hatang said it was decided to start the celebrations early. The campaign kicks off with a request to the world’s children to write letters to Mandela. Children are asked to write in their mother tongues, telling Mandela about the world they live in and their hopes for its betterment.
Songs from the Soweto Gospel Choir filled the Soweto Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) hall, where Mandela, who was an avid boxer, trained before his incarceration in 1964.
Hatang said that through the Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018 Be the Legacy campaign, people are prompted to “take a step back” and ask whether South Africa and South Africans are still “on course”, as well as what it is they could do to get back on course.
The Be the Legacy campaign is centred on the principles of integrity, passion, respect, service, transformation and transparency. “By 2018 we should have these in place so we can build the country we want,” said Hatang.
Keynote speaker Tokyo Sexwale, who was Premier of Gauteng during Mandela’s presidency, said Mandela “epitomises a feeling of unity in a country where today there is discord”. According to Sexwale, South Africa appears to have lost its way these days and needs to recalibrate.
Sexwale, a Trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said it is incumbent on the Foundation to promote democracy, prosperity, health and education.
“There can’t ever be a Mandela without an Oliver Tambo,” said Sexwale. Oliver Tambo, president of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1967 to 1991, was born in the Eastern Cape on 27 October 1917. Mandela and Tambo were friends from around 12 years of age.
“When Nelson Mandela was on Robben Island, it was Oliver Tambo who kept the name of Nelson Mandela alive for 30 years, from 1960 to 1990,” Sexwale said. “These two icons were also leaders of the ANC. The ANC today has to look at its moral compass and find a way back to the principles they stood for, otherwise people have got the right to choose,” he added.
Hatang said Be The Legacy will be looking at public education, social justice and innovative partnerships. Mandela was always focused on the importance of education, Hatang said. Also, it is “not enough to just be preaching equality”; action has to be taken to increase equality in South Africa.
The Foundation called on South Africans to send suggestions on how to celebrate Mandela’s life via the Be the Legacy section of its website.
Letters to Mandela can be handwritten, scanned and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also be brought to the Foundation at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, 107 Central Street, Houghton, Johannesburg, or dropped into the special boxes at South African Post Office branches.