SA honours Madiba legacy


South Africans will paint schools, plant trees, visit old age homes and sing happy birthday to celebrate former president Nelson Mandela's 94th birthday on Wednesday.

Mandela's birthday has become known as "Mandela Day" -- an initiative of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and its sister organisations, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

"The overarching objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good," according to the official Mandela Day website.

Wits University, where Mandela was once a student, will celebrate the day with 94 minutes, instead of 67 minutes.

This will include the singing of happy birthday and buying Mandela 94-cupcakes for R10. The proceeds will go to the Wits Paediatric Fund.

Wits is encouraging people to buy trees to be planted at the Mandela Peace Park in Mamelodi, and to donate blankets and non-perishable foods to Operation Snowball, The Star newspaper's initiative to help the needy this winter.

"Witsies can get involved in The Star newspaper initiative that has adopted two schools in Soweto as a Lead SA project in celebration of Mandela Day," the Johannesburg-based university said in a statement.

The schools are Batsogile and Tshebedisano primary schools.

The Gandhi Development Trust will take school pupils to spend time at two homes for the aged in Inanda and KwaMashu in KwaZulu-Natal.

"The event's theme, Connecting Generations, is to highlight the importance and value of the elderly. The programme's theme comes in light of the worrying trend of 'disrespectful youth', as seen in the ongoing conflict between the ANC and its youth league, as well as the apparent 'gap' between the old and the young in schools and communities," the trust said in a statement.

Transport Minister Ben Martins and Eastern Cape transport MEC Thandiswa Marawu will honour Mandela by painting road markings in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

They will then go to a local school to teach pupils about road safety.

The SABC's Radio 2000 has created the Madiba Project, in which musicians have recorded two original birthday songs, "All About Love" and "Happy Birthday Madiba", with two music videos to accompany the songs.

"The proceeds of this song will go towards building a dedicated specialist hospital for the children of Southern Africa, which has been Madiba's dream for years," said Sibongile Mkhabela, CEO of Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital Trust.

At the moment, South Africa only has one dedicated children's facility, the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital in Cape Town. The planned children's hospital would be located in Parktown, Johannesburg, near the Wits Medical School.

Last month, a happy birthday video for Mandela was unveiled by Lead SA, the basic education department, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and was supported by Shout, Brand SA and Proudly SA.

On Wednesday, around 12.5 million schoolchildren will sing the happy birthday song at 8am.

On Monday, Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele and prisoners at the Piet Retief prison in Mpumalanga harvested vegetables to commemorate Mandela Day.

The vegetables were destined for the Ezakheni Combined School at Donkerhoek near Piet Retief, following a pledge, when the school opened last year, that the correctional services department would provide one hectare of land to provide fresh vegetables for the school.

The minister said: "We believe that offenders must use their skills to plough back to the very communities they have wronged."

The water affairs department and Setsoto municipality in Ficksburg in the Free State will get locals involved in painting Boitumelo High School, as well as planting trees and laying foundations for toilets.

Political parties are also getting involved, with the Congress of the People renovating a crèche in Roodepan, Kimberley. The Eastern Cape Democratic Alliance will conduct cleanups, run soup kitchens and fill potholes.

Staff at the Independent Electoral Commission will spend their 67 minutes on 15 projects including maintenance at a children's home, painting an orphanage, and cleaning a creche.

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