Happy birthday, Tata Madiba
18 July 2013
Birthday wishes were pouring in for former president Nelson Mandela as he turned 95 on Thursday, with a tangible sense of celebration in the country as millions of pupils sang "Happy Birthday Madiba" and South Africans from all walks of life geared up to pay tribute to their national treasure.
In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared July 18 as Nelson Mandela International Day, in honour of Mandela's lifelong commitment to human rights, conflict resolution and reconciliation.
South Africans and people around the world have been called on to observe the day by giving at least 67 minutes of their time to help create a better tomorrow for all.
Family with Madiba in hospital
Mandela was expected to spend his birthday with his family at the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, where he was admitted on 8 June for a recurring lung infection.
Members of the public have been visiting the hospital daily
to drop off cards, flowers and decorations wishing the former statesmen well.
Learners from schools across the country held a special assembly and sang a special Happy Birthday song to Madiba at 8am, while radio and television stations played the Happy Birthday song at the same time.
President Jacob Zuma was due to oll up his sleeves to launch a new low-cost housing settlement in Danville, Pretoria West, which is home to low-income black and white families.
The Danville/Elandspoort settlement will house families that used to reside at the Bethlehem Informal Settlement in Pretoria West, which was occupied by poor white families as well as families residing in Road Reserves in the Atteridgeville area and other Pretoria Central and Pretoria West areas.
The launch of a non-racial settlement pays tribute to Mandela's vision of nation building and reconciliation in South Africa.
'Uphold Madiba's ideals'
Acting GCIS CEO Phumla Williams said
recently that Madiba had left an indelible mark on South African society, having overseen the transition from apartheid to a society built on the pillars of democracy and freedom.
"To celebrate Mandela Month, South Africans need to uphold Madiba's ideals, including his unwavering commitment to justice, equality and a non-racial South Africa," Williams said.
In addition to the numerous events due to be held across the country, Cabinet ministers were set to exchange their formal suits for overalls.
Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi was gearing to spend his Mandela Day at the Tshwane Leadership Foundation, a non-profit organisation working with the indigent, homeless, women in crises and girls at risk, vulnerable children and youth inner city communities.
Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele was due to visit an orphanage and child-headed home in Soweto, while Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba was preparing to visit Witbank Hospital before
helping to paint classrooms at Mmagobana Primary School in Thushanang township.
A cleanup campaign in Brits in North West province was to be led by Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, while Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula was due to visit Eldorado Park to hand over sporting gear and equipment to 10 schools.
Mandela Legacy Bridge handover
Meanwhile, several events were planned in and around Madiba's birthplace of Mvezo in the Eastern Cape, with the Nkosi Dalibhubga Mandela Legacy Bridge ready for handover over the Mvezo community. The bridge, built over the Mbashe River, will link Ludondolo village with Mvezo, bringing economic and tourism opportunities to the area.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Wednesday handed over the Mandela Park Primary School to the Slova Park community in Mthatha. The school, which was sponsored by ArcelorMittal South Africa at a cost of R45-million, boasts top of the range
equipment and facilities.
Earlier this week Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu donated R1-million worth of computers to disadvantaged learners from Alexandria Primary School and Ukhanyo Secondary School in Alexandria, Port Alfred.