Drums sounded and children cheered and waved as a group of cyclists set off from Soweto early on 28 August 2018 on the first leg of the inaugural Nelson Mandela Legacy Ride4Hope.
The 554km Ride4Hope is one of many events endorsed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation that mark the centenary of Mandela’s 1918 birth by carrying out his call to make the world a better place for all.
“We’re delighted to have South Africans who have taken the initiative to do good work and to make South Africa the land of Madiba’s dreams,” the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Given Tucks said at the send-off event.
The cyclists have raised the funds required to improve facilities at schools along their route, beginning with the Orlando Seventh Day Adventist Church Primary School. The school is a block away from the house in Orlando West, Soweto, where Mandela’s family lived from 1952 to just after his 1990 release after 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid activism.
“We can do so little compared to Mandela,” said cyclist Sbusiso Madonsela. “As we pass through communities we will be giving to the needy. That’s really the least we can do.”
The 50 participating cyclists’ final destination is the site near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal where Mandela was arrested by apartheid-era police in August 1952. They aim to reach the site on 31 August.
“Nelson Mandela stands out head and shoulders [above anyone else] as the torchbearer of transformation. He made all that we have possible,” said Thabo Leeuw, founding director of the Thesele Group.
Leeuw said the 100% black-owned investment company, which is one of the Ride4Hope partners, was already pondering how to turn the initiative into an annual event.
City of Johannesburg mayoral committee member for community development Nonhlanhla Sifumba said the Ride4Hope cyclists had taken up the community service baton Mandela had laid down. Mandela died in 2013.
The first leg of the ride ends at Standerton in Mpumalanga on 28 August. On 29 August, the cyclists will view the improvements at the Ncandu Combined School in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, where funds they raised have paid for tiling, painting, school uniforms and dignity packs for the learners.
On 30 August, the group will stop in at Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, where Thembisizwe Primary School has a new Grade R classroom built with funds they raised. The next day, the cyclists will donate school shoes and dignity and lunch packs to pupils at the Lions River Primary School in Lions River, KwaZulu-Natal.