Nelson Mandela turns 92 today. What better way to honour his contribution to the world than by participating in Mandela Day, declared ‘Nelson Mandela International Day’ by the United Nations last year. People across the globe are performing 67 minutes of community service today, in tribute to the over 67 years that Madiba devoted to public service and striving for social justice.
It was awesome to see him attend the World Cup final here in Johannesburg, along with Morgan Freeman, who portrayed him masterfully in the movie Invictus. In the words of this iconic actor: “Madiba doesn’t want a day of celebration. He asked that we spent 67 minutes on that one day in service of humanity.”
Still in South Africa, Morgan Freeman waved off a group of motorcycle riders on Tuesday, at the start of their road trip in support of Mandela Day. Although not riding himself, he is taking part in the event, which has traversed South Africa, from the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg all the way to Cape Town. This is the final day, being spent erecting a fence at the AIDS Response centre in Khayelitsha, convening at the Cape Town City Hall, followed by a press conference at the One&Only Hotel at the V&A Waterfront.
To set the Mother City scene for you, here is a photo taken in April of this year, just a few days before Freedom Day, which commemorates South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, when Nelson Mandela was elected President. Shot from Signal Hill, it includes Robben Island on the left, where Madiba was incarcerated for many years, together with other anti-apartheid activists. In modern contrast, Greenpoint Stadium is on the right, which has been the setting for much World Cup jubilation over the past few weeks!
This image shows the One&Only Hotel (marked in red), in close proximity to the stadium:
. . . and this of course is Table Mountain, taken from the V&A Waterfront:
If you’d like a glimpse into a township tour around Cape Town, including Khayelitsha, then here’s a video clip from the trip that Dave and I documented last October for Hills of Africa Travel. It was profoundly touching to experience the warmth and energy of the people we met. The tour incorporated a variety of vibrant grass-roots projects, supported by Uthando South Africa (Love South Africa), who do wonderful work in the Western Cape.
The sentiment behind the Mandela Day road trip is not only to support the 67 minutes of service initiative, but to promote a mind shift towards approaching every day in a similar spirit. A big ask? Certainly, but to quote this phenomenal man:
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela