Mandela Day launched in Soweto

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pretoria - The 2012 Nelson Mandela International Day was today launched at the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto.

Mandela Day is the birthday of former President Nelson Mandela, who was born on July 18, 1918, in the former Transkei homeland in the Eastern Cape.

Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory spokesperson, Sello Hatang, said launching Nelson Mandela Day at the Hector Pieterson Museum represented the spirit of sacrifice and selflessness that Hector Pieterson displayed.

"We would like to encourage young people to be active citizens by participating whole-heartedly in this campaign. We are particularly pleased with the artists who have decided to join us. We hope that all their followers will take their lead," he said.

Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory CEO, Achmat Dangor, urged people to take time out of their schedules to inspire change in their communities by doing good deeds.

"We would like to remind all that the Mandela Day campaign is a call for activism in order to build better communities."

United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Deputy Director, Dr Helene Hoedl, said: "The message of giving your time to uplift your fellow citizens is reaching people, and the spirit of volunteerism that has been shown is humbling.

"We can only work harder by ensuring that this is more sustainable and that we indeed 'make every day a Mandela Day."

South Africa's award-winning R&B star, Danny K, spoke on behalf of the country's talented pool of artists participating in Mandela Day.

He reminded guests of the vital role played by youth in South Africa and throughout the world, and how through education and providing them with a good start in life, they could overcome all challenges.

"As the great man Madiba is famous for saying, 'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world," he said.

The second phase of the launch was hosted at Tlhatlogang Junior Secondary School, a disadvantaged school situated in White City, Jabavu (Soweto).

Guests offered their time by painting and fixing the school, turning it into a place more conducive to learning.

Hatang said: "As the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, we strongly believe that in order for people to understand the meaning of Nelson Mandela Day, we should physically demonstrate Nelson Mandela's values through action."

As the emphasis for Nelson Mandela International Day 2012 is placed on raising youth through decent education, the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education, is driving some of South Africa's most meaningful initiatives, namely the Container Library Project and the 94+ Schools Project.

These are aimed at improving the conditions of impoverished schools and bettering literacy among children in historically disadvantaged communities.

Hatang said there were countless ways for the youth to give back and start affecting a positive change.

On Mandela Day and the entire month of July, South Africans and people all over the world are encouraged to dedicate at least 67 minutes of their time to community work in celebration of the values and principles that Mandela fought and stood for.

The 67 minutes symbolizes Madiba's years of selfless service to the people of South Africa and the world in the course of his extraordinary life.

Mandela spent 67 years of his life working to build a better life for all. The day will also mark Madiba's 94th birthday.

In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly declared Mandela's birthday, 18 July, as the annual Nelson Mandela International Day.