Staff from the Nelson Mandela Foundation, joined by partners and members of the community, got their hands dirty as Mandela Day 2016 was announced to the world at Dr Mathole Motshekga Primary School in Tembisa.
“In celebrating seven years of Mandela Day this year, we thought it is important to stay true to the ethos and values of the initiative. The format of the announcement will be a first. We’re not only talking about Mandela Day activities, we’re doing them,” said Yase Godlo, manager of Mandela Day at the Foundation.
This year, Mandela Day activities will centre around four key areas, namely literacy and education, food security, shelter and infrastructure, as well as the environment.
Joined by enthusiastic learners, as well as Mandela Day partners Pfizer, Stop Hunger Now, Tiger Brands, Food and Trees for Africa, PMG, Dignity Dreams, Brand SA, Destination Green and Plastic SA, participants got to work painting libraries and classrooms, collecting new books, tending to a food garden and packaging nutritious food supplies for communities in need, as well as supporting recycling initiatives run by the children themselves.
“I think it’s important to speak about why we chose Dr Mathole Motshekga Primary School,” said the Foundation’s CEO, Sello Hatang. “It was built by the community. They saw a need, and didn’t wait for it to be delivered to them. They asked, ‘What can we do to help our children?’
“They even contributed towards teacher salaries. This is an important example, as it shows us that we don’t have to wait. Making a difference is about precisely that – taking charge. Mandela Day’s call since 2009 has been ‘Take action, inspire change, make every day a Mandela Day,' and that is why we are here today.”
Humanitarian and activist Graça Machel gave an inspiring keynote address, and said that Madiba’s legacy should be seen as a way of living, not as an event tied to Mandela Day.
“When we celebrate what we call Mandela Day, it is just symbolic. It’s a symbol of what we are trying to do on a day-to-day basis. A pledge to live Madiba’s legacy is choosing to do whatever it is you do to the best of your ability every day. It’s a way of living, not an event.
“Mandela Day gives us a way to energise our collective commitment, and it helps to know you are not doing this alone – there are millions of us. This helps build the movement of doing something good for someone else, selflessly caring for others, and remind ourselves that we belong to a global, human family.
“I want to thank all those people who, from the moment Mandela Day was established, never wavered in their commitment. And I want to thank all those who may have only recently taken part for the first time, as well as those joining us in 2016.
“Only when we join hands and walk forward together can our actions truly be felt around the world.”