Mandela dream realised

Nelson Mandela (File)
Nelson Mandela (File)

Johannesburg - The proceeds from the inaugural Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day will go towards building a children’s hospital in Gauteng, to fulfil the last wish of the former president.

"We are blessed to celebrate Nelson Mandela while he is still alive and we are blessed to organise this occasion for the greatest man ever to be seen on planet earth," Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula said on Thursday in Johannesburg.

"The world says so, everyone says so and we say so.

"Nobody else has ever had such recognition but Mandela is no king.

"He is just an ordinary person who grew up amongst us and stood against adversity to realise his dream."

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital would be the biggest in southern Africa and it was cause for celebration, Mbalula said.

"This is Mandela’s last wish and he can never ask anything of us again.

"You don’t have to drown yourself in sorrow and deep sadness.

"To think one day he will not be with us is not nice, but he will never die in our souls and spirits and this is the beginning of celebrating his legacy --in our own way and in our own style. What distinguishes us among nations is Ubuntu -- to give back."

On August 17, South Africa’s national soccer and rugby teams will play international friendlies at the FNB Stadium, followed by a music concert.

Bafana Bafana take on Burkina Faso, while the Springboks play Argentina -- a match originally scheduled to be played in Bloemfontein.

The matches will be preceded by a match between South Africa’s soccer legends, captained by Lucas Radebe, and a team of Italian Masters.

The proceeds from the day, and other events leading up to it, including Bafana’s game against Nigeria in Durban on August 14, will all go towards building the hospital.

"We are indeed living in exciting times," Mbalula said as he teased SA Football Association president Kirsten Nematandani about standing for re-election after soccer bigwigs Irvin Khoza and Danny Jordaan had reportedly said to be interested in the post.

"Democracy will prevail as long as you just declare your interest and let the masses do the talking with their X.

"History is unfolding in different ways.

"Even (President) Mugabe says he will accept defeat if he loses the Zimbabwe elections.

"This is fantastic news for all of us -- if Mugabe can embrace democracy then, really, we have arrived."

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