Call to celebrate Mandela Day
12 July 2012
Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile has called on South Africans to play their part in celebrating Nelson Mandela's 94th birthday by setting aside some of their time to assist others.
On 18 July, coinciding with Mandela's birthday, individuals and organisations around the world are challenged to spend at least 67 minutes doing good work in their own communities in honour of the 67 years that Mandela gave in service and sacrifice.
Nelson Mandela International Day, now in its fifth year, was inspired by a speech Mandela gave at Hyde Park in London in June 2008, when he deliberately misread his speech to say "it is in your hands now" instead of the prepared "it's in our hands".
Speaking in Zeerust in North West province on Monday, Mashatile said Mandela Day was an opportunity for all South Africans to make time to be of service to their fellow human beings.
"The celebration of Mandela Day recognises and honours our former President's commitment to the objective of building a national democratic society that is united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous," he said.
As part of the celebrations, Mashatile urged all government departments and municipalities, the private sector and local communities to initiate activities aimed at achieving the objectives of Nelson Mandela Day throughout the country.
According to Mashatile, on 18 July, premiers, Members of Parliament and of Provincial Legislatures, mayors and councillors will set aside time to do community service.
People can play a role by assisting the elderly with their shopping, volunteering at local schools and many other forms of community service.
Mashatile said Nelson Mandela Day celebrations were also an opportunity to promote social cohesion, national healing and nation building.
"Let us all individually and collectively strive to become agents for building a better and caring society," he said.
Activities for this year's Nelson Mandela Week celebrations include the unveiling of tombstones of former freedom fighters, cleaning of graves, beautification of schools and old age homes, flying the South African flag in schools, holding developmental workshops for emerging artists, and handing out of blankets.
Others include assisting in maintaining backyard food gardens, donation of books to community libraries and embarking on immunisation programmes.
The main Mandela Day celebrations will be held at the Dinokana Stadium in Zeerust.