Call to service for Madiba's birthday

2011-07-15 14:59

Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela turns 93 on Monday, a day once marked by international concerts and celebrations, but now a day when the anti-apartheid icon urges the world to perform acts of charity.

For the third year, at the request of his charitable foundation, July 18 will be observed as Mandela Day, recognised by the United Nations as a global call to volunteer for good causes for 67 minutes - representing each year of Mandela's life in active politics.

"It is hard to sum up Mandela's achievements and contribution to the country's struggle for freedom," said Shadrack Gutto, of the Centre for African Renaissance Studies at the University of South Africa.

"A leader of Mandela's calibre serves as a symbol of humility and selflessness," said Gutto.

Mandela himself will spend the day at home with family, the way he spends most of his days since a health scare in January when he was hospitalised for an acute respiratory infection.

Schoolchildren to sing

He was last seen in public just before his last birthday, when he and his third wife Graca Machel made an appearance at the Soccer World Cup final.

It's a far cry from the fanfare that once greeted his birthday.

For his 90th, Mandela jetted off to London for a charity concert with the likes of Will Smith and Annie Lennox to raise money for his Aids charity; hosted a speech in Johannesburg by Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf; and threw a party for hundreds of children at his home.

This year, 93 children from around the country are invited to his foundation on Monday, but they aren't expected to meet the man most South Africans know as Madiba, his clan name used with affection.

All the nation's 12.4 million school children will erupt in song in a special "Happy Birthday" rendition with an African twist, penned by a local composer.

"It hopes to mobilise the entire society to promote education, unity and social cohesion in honour of Madiba," said Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga.

Companies, charities and celebrities have all announced plans for the day.

A group of bikers left Johannesburg at the beginning of the week to traverse the country doing voluntary work in poor communities. Their 2 200km trip ends on Monday in Pretoria.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter and American reality show star Kimora Lee Simmons were among 67 famous people who inked their handprints to the Mandela Legacy Canvas, which will be auctioned in Cape Town this weekend to raise money for charity.


Schools and orphanages are opening their doors to volunteers who clean and paint, while blood banks are operating extra hours for an expected rush of donors.

As South Africa's first black president, Mandela is revered for ushering in democracy and for his personal sacrifices in fighting the white-minority apartheid regime that jailed him for 27 years.

On his release in 1990, he led negotiations that paved the way to elections in 1994. He used his warmth, dignity and self-deprecating humour to help heal racial divisions and opened a process of reconciliation.

Those values can be in short supply among South Africa's current leaders who seem embroiled in an endless series of scandals from corruption to hate speech, said political analyst Steven Friedman.

"The political climate is tense right now. Racial divisions are showing and space for national debate is needed," said Friedman.

"Leaders these days use the government to dominate others. It is important that politicians and society don't lose sight of Mandela's vision for a united South Africa," said Friedman.

  • Smindlo - 2011-07-15 15:38

    can the ANC mayors, ministers, councillors, deployees, etc etc do something on monday for a change, even if its for 67 minutes!!!!!!!!

      Cheryl Muir - 2011-07-16 19:55

      yes they can perhaps stop stealing from the nation and go back to the values NELSON MANDELA stood for. down with corruption, down!

      youcantrunyoucanthide - 2011-07-16 20:02

      @Cheryl Muir - Yes... values such as giving the orders to blow up innocent civilians... Or pretending to be this saintly figure, but all the while turning a blind eye to farm murders? Thats it, right? Those are the values you are referring to?

      walterjc - 2011-07-17 21:45

      Why should they? Why do'nt Mandela rather ask criminals not to murder, steal and rob for 67 minutes?

      Four Five - 2011-07-18 08:04

      Nice thing about people like this Sarah, , they never lived in Soweto, Langa, KwaMashu, Mdansane, Alex, might have visited but never had to live there. The poverty, the violence, never had her play time interrupted by gunfire and teargas smoke. Every war has it casualties and generals defficult orders to issue. So yes, people we murdered, unsavoury orders given and disagreeable actions taken. These event took place so that we are here today, most whites may feel they are in a worse off position, but trust me most blacks ARE in a better positions because of these. Thank You Madiba, Thank You ANC and all the other black freedom fighters. You liberated the majority of this country!

      Politicallycorrect - 2011-07-18 10:46

      I ain't going to worship no man who is a terrorist in my mind, but the world considers a god; who ordered the committing of atrocities against innocent civillians, who carried bombs himself, who is still recognised as a terrorist by the FBI & CIA, so guess what I ain't going to do anything, that's right nada in Mandela's name for nabody! The media along with international brain washed musicians has painted this picture of this man being a saint, which he aint!!

  • Justinpassin - 2011-07-15 15:50

    Nelson Mandela is senile. Who is making these so-called requests on his behalf. Let the old man rest in peace.

      lance ANCY - 2011-07-16 12:02

      Yep...who is behind all this? Can you perhaps answer me...why was his Aids benefit concert name changed from 4664 to 46664? 666....satan! Is Madiba a 33 degree freemason? 67minutes....6+7=13.....satanic number... I just don't know what it means. Are they getting us to give 67minutes for satan?

      Nicolai - 2011-07-16 23:50

      @lance ANCY: I believe you are senile. Please report to a psychiatrist at once before you hurt yourself or someone else.

  • Cheryl Muir - 2011-07-16 19:58


  • pmthree - 2011-07-17 07:55

    There are many african leaders who have lead many nations astray,let by-gones be by-gones lets embrace Mandela Day with a vision of peace and everlasting love to our fellow man.

      eh eh eh - 2011-07-17 18:55

      WTF are you talking about? ALL the African leaders have led ALL the nations astray. Take a look at the state of the continent you imbicile! Do you see any success stories?

  • Thats_that - 2011-07-17 09:25

    This "has been" guy gets far too mucch press. On the home page, News 24 presumptuously gives us 3 choices about how we will celebrate nelson mandelas birthday. I choose secret option number 4: I don't care and wont notice.

  • John - 2011-07-17 13:06

    He paid the price for treason,and that's now over. He's moved on. He's now given the world something to learn from. Lets hope that Zuma, JM read and learn to cultivate the vision Mandela has given them. It's only for the benefit of all South Africans.

  • Cat Woman - 2011-07-17 20:11

    This is mean't to be done in goodwill not bickering! There are alot of solutions to this problem. Why can it not have you given your neighbour a smile today? I shall be handing out hugs to who ever wants one it is free and makes some smile.

  • HardHitter - 2011-07-18 06:45

    What about Eskom, Vodacom, MTN, CellC, Telkom, SAA - are they gonna give 67 minutes. What about the state hospitals, oh, Mandela just drive past to the private hospitals? The hero of SA ,not going to state hospitals like his voters. If he was a hero of any note he would have gone to state hosptitals. Thats like Mell Gibson in Braveheart going back home to mommy when he s supposed to be figthing the enemy ,because he is scared to fight.

  • K_za - 2011-07-18 08:45

    Nelson Mandela could have played a much bigger part in pulling this wonderful nation of ours together but instead he let the likes of Malema and Zuma destroy any chance of greatness. Why? Why has he let his people suffer at the hands of these corrupt people?!

  • frederick777 - 2011-07-18 08:56

    Dear Mr Mandela. Thank you for changing SA. Thanx to you communism is in the uprise. People are getting murdered every day and the criminal gets away because of poor police systems. BEE and affirmative action is killing the economy alongside these violent stikes. We in SA call it rights. I call it racism. Our wifes and daughters are getting raped and murdered by your followers. Crime is in the order of the day. Babies are murdered by your laws (abortion) and I must pay high taxes to your corrupt goverment so that they can spend millions in parties and buying cars. Hope you have a nice day!

  • Nadia Jacobs - 2011-07-18 09:20

    It's actually so sad to hear so much negativity> No one is forcing anybody to celebrate or rather give 67 minutes. It's a gesture of goodwill and if you can't find it in your heart to do that then don't. We just have to create all these special days so people can do something good and give back to their community. Same as mothers day, same as valentines day....etc. No one is forcing you to do any good!

  • CHIPPER_CHAP - 2011-07-18 10:21

    Mandela is, was and will always remain a terrorist. and for the whites creeping up to him, ever heard this song by him ?

  • ANCockup - 2011-07-18 11:37

    Hahahaahaha!!!! Thanks to your crappy ANC the whole country needs charity! Typical African mentality....they love charity.

  • Candidapax - 2011-07-18 17:30

    Everytime I read the posts here, I realize how difficult it will be to change the right-wingers traversing our sunny South Africa. Sure the ANC is riled by corruption and power-mongering but for these racists to call Mandela is terrorist? I have been preaching 'toe-nadering' and telling my kids that Malema was a lone imbecile but no, I think Malema has a point after-all.

  • John Paul - 2011-07-18 23:06

    I did not wait for Nelson Mandela to change from a bomber to a peace man for I to start helping communities around me!

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