The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has announced plans to revamp the hall where Mandela made his last speech as a free man in 1961 during the All-In-Africa Conference.
“The hall is very iconic, it’s historic. It is a hall that brought all South Africans together for the first time from all race groups and they spoke in one voice,” KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu said on Wednesday.
On the day that Mandela would have turned 100 years, Mchunu said the development of the Manaye Hall in Pietermaritzburg into a heritage site would also give Imbali township a facelift and boost the local economy.
The province is also home to the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick, which is a cultural and historical exhibition that is situated at the site at which Nelson Mandela was apprehended before being incarcerated on Robben Island.
“The marathon that we have created to link the two places [Manaye Hall and the Mandela Capture Site], which is about 40 kilometres long, is going to end up creating a tourist attraction that we all need,” Mchunu said.
Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, who also participated in the Mandela Day commemoration, said the revamping of Manaye Hall is part of the national project for heritage sites.
“The community hall is quite important because it is about the journey of Mandela, who is now a global icon. His [Mandela] message that came from that hall contributed to him going to jail for 27 years, separated from his family but upon return, he was never an angry person,” she said.
The Minister said it was important for young people to know the history of the county so that they can shape a future that is informed by the past and does not take South Africa back.
The Premier encouraged South Africans to respect human rights in honour of Mandela.
“We in our own conduct fail to observe the values that are enshrined in the Constitution, including in the Bill of Rights. One of that is the right to life. When criminals kill… they violate human rights. When crime takes place and people cannot move around freely, that deprives them of their own human rights.
“When our own protests take the form of blocking roads and doing it illegally, we block the rights of people who are not involved. The Constitution does not deprive us of the right to protest, but it specifies what needs to be done to protest properly,” Mchunu said.
The Premier and the Minister visited Manaye Hall, Ekujabuleni Children’s Home and the Mandela Capture Site as part of Mandela Day celebrations.
“Madiba loved children. We are here in Ekujabuleni, which is a [home for] orphans, to contribute towards the future development of the African child,” Mokonyane said.
During the visit to the children’s home, donations were made of story books, television sets (which are to be loaded with educational material), blankets and food.
The Minister called on South Africans to love one another, accommodate diversity, be tolerant and remain committed to doing away with discrimination.
“South Africans are a nation under construction and in his honour, we need to work together and identify the spirit of non-racialism, non-sexism, equality, anti-poverty and unemployment as things that must unite us,” she said.
The Nelson Mandela Centenary was led by the SABC Foundation. – SAnews.gov.za