JOHANNESBURG: Given the huge sacrifices Nelson Mandela made for this country, gloomy weather and rain were never going to put a dampener on the annual Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run, as over 20 000 people again joyously took to the Pretoria streets today in memory of Madiba.
In the shadows of the Union Buildings where Madiba was inaugurated as a democratic South Africa’s first President and with a giant statue of the beaming statesman looking on, it was a fantastic, festive event for young and old from all walks of life, as thousands participated in the 10 and 21 kilometre runs and 5 kilometre walk.
The event, hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation in partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Government, again cemented its status as one of the country’s biggest and best social and recreational gatherings.
Some of the country’s top runners have adopted this event as one of their favourite end-of-year runs, with defending Comrades Marathon champion Gerda Steyn blitzing her way to victory in the 21 kilometre run in her hometown in a time of 01:15:26, ahead of running mate Irvette van Zyl, with Kate Murray in third place.
Elite runner Collen Mulaudzi won the men’s 21 kilometre race in a time of 01:06:10, ahead of Olympian Sibusiso Nzima and fellow Boxer runner Lucky Mohale.
It was a satisfying rare “win” for Mulaudzi against his running mate and good friend, the legendary Stephen Mokoka, who again used the event as a casual family fun run.
While the cream of the crop of South Africa’s top professional runners took part, this was a day though for all ordinary South Africans of all shapes and sizes and fitness levels who revelled in the occasion. Pensioners, toddlers in their strollers, participants in wheelchairs, all were determined to be part of the special occasion.
For Madiba’s eldest grandchild, Ndileka Mandela, the event showed that “the hope for our country, that my granddad was an embodiment of, has not died”.
“This event clearly renews hope in our people. The excitement is palpable in every one who participated. They braved the weather conditions to be here. It has become far more than a remembrance walk, it is a major social event in accordance with what Madiba represented. He was exuberant, he loved fun and you could sense his spirit all around us here today,” said Mandela.
She added, however, that the rain was also symbolic of the tears her granddad would have shed for the “siege” of violence against women and children which persists in this country.
“He would not be happy. He would be crying for the women of this country, who are under siege. He always said our freedom is not complete until we can dismantle all forms of oppression and violence against women and children. As women, it is not yet uhuru for us, and it is fitting that this event happens in the period marking 16 days of activism against gender-based violence in our country,” Mandela added.
“The Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run is about remembering Madiba, but it is also about encouraging the people of Gauteng to adopt healthy lifestyles. It was raining, but despite the weather there were thousands of people who said ‘we want to be hear, we want to honour this great man’. He was a sportsman who lived a healthy lifestyle and as a province we also want to encourage everyone to invest in their well-being,” said Mbali Hlophe, Gauteng MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation.
“This event now forms an integral part of the Provincial Government’s efforts to foster social cohesion and promote the spirit of Ubuntu,” Hlophe added.
Nelson Mandela Foundation Communications Director, Luzuko Koti, said the event showed the “love and respect people continue to have for Madiba”.
“Even more importantly, through this event people are also showing their connection to the values Madiba cherished and held dear. For him, the country came first and he also loved sport and physical activity, which this event celebrates. We are very thankful and inspired by the resilience of people who continue to support this event and the work of the Foundation, and who continue to respect and honour Madiba and his values,” said Koti.
“There are many more messages coming out of this event. It fittingly comes at the end of the 16 days of activism campaign against gender-based violence and it allows us to reflect on the society we’ve become. Why are so many of our people still so violent and racist? Madiba wanted a different society and one of his legacies was our constitution. We must recognise our constitution as an instrument of transformation. If we are to follow in Madiba’s footsteps, let’s use our constitution to defend the people who feel vulnerable in our society, the women and children, and ensure it helps us change our society for the better,” Koti added.
The event marked the culmination of the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s 20thanniversary and all proceeds raised from the entry fees are donated to The Nelson Mandela Foundation to continue with the work the foundation does to preserve and promote Madiba’s legacy.
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JOHANNESBURG: Given the huge
sacrifices Nelson Mandela made for this country, gloomy weather and rain were
never going to put a dampener on the annual Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run,
as over 20 000 people again joyously took to the Pretoria streets today in
memory of Madiba.