Tutu wishes Mandela happy birthday

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cape Town - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has praised former President and world icon Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, and wished a happy birthday in advance.

Tutu said South Africa was where it was today because of Nelson Mandela, who championed reconciliation.

Mandela, also fondly known by his clan name Madiba, is turning 93 next week Monday.

"Madiba, thank you for being who you are," said Tutu, reminding the nation that though there were still problems to be solved, "we have touched greatness."

"Let's make this country one we are proud of ... he (Madiba) said that we can reach for the sky, the sky is the limit especially for the young people."

Tutu, alongside Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, addressed a huge contingent of journalists during the unveiling of the Mandela Legacy Canvas at the City Hall.

The canvas project was initiated during last year's FIFA World Cup and featured the handprints of 67 celebrities, in line with Madiba's call for everyone to contribute at least 67 minutes on International Mandela Day to help the needy.

The unique artwork consisted of handprints stitched together in the shape and colours of the South African flag.

The canvas was edged with Madiba's slogan of "Love, Hope, Peace and Unity" in colourful beads sewn on by crafters from Khayelitsha township.

De Lille said that on Friday, in honour of Madiba, Eastern Boulevard in the city centre would be renamed the Nelson Mandela Boulevard.

The renaming event is set to be marked with a sit-down dinner and stage production to celebrate the life and times of Madiba, and a charity auction as well as a mayoral announcement in commemoration of the former president.

The mayor said that the 67 minutes of charity work, as desired by Madiba, should become part of the nation's culture.

She said that Madiba "gave us the instruction not to forget the poor... His wish is that the 67 minutes should become part of our culture."

Once the canvas was auctioned, De Lille said that the proceeds would go towards the Mandela Children's Foundation and the Mandela Foundation as well as other charities.

This year, the mayor will spend her 67 minutes at a home of the disabled in Gugulethu township.

Tutu said people should spend the 67 minutes by doing "what God moves you to do."

That, he said, could mean "giving a smile to someone or wiping a tear or giving away R1 million!"