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Much achieved on Mandela Day Print E-mail
18 July 2011

Johannesburg is a better place on the night of Nelson Mandela Day – people from all walks of life have pitched in the help where they can, cleaning, planting and singing.

THE atmosphere was electric and spirits were very high as hordes of people thronged Thokoza Park in Soweto on 18  July to mark Nelson Mandela’s 93rd birthday.

Executive mayor Parks Tau
Executive mayor Parks Tau plants the 93rd tree
Ululations filled the air as people sang happy birthday and praises to Mandela. Speaking at the celebration, Executive Mayor Parks Tau said the aim of observing Mandela’s birthday was to reflect on the contribution that he made towards the betterment of humanity.

“Nelson Mandela is a living icon who fought for the liberation of all the oppressed people in the world,” said Tau, who encouraged the private sector to work with the City in seeking solutions to poverty and unemployment.

“We should join hands to ensure a better future for our children where they would not suffer from our historical problems of prejudice.”

The mayoral committee member for infrastructure services and environment, Roslynn Greeff, thanked the crowd for participating in the celebration.

“Respect the Mandela footprint in this park and protect it for future generations,” she added.

Sending birthday messages to Madiba
Sending birthday messages to Madiba
Students from Soweto Equestrian Academy entertained the crowd, showing off their horse riding skills. The crowd were left in stitches with a song about the history of transport in South Africa by schoolchildren from Saint Mary’s School, in Waverly.

Mandela Peace Orchard
After the speeches, Tau planted the 93rd tree in the Mandela Peace Orchard. The ceremonial planting was followed by the unveiling of a plague outlining the milestones in the extraordinary life of Mandela.

The delegation then proceeded to Mandela’s home in Houghton, where they were met by learners from various schools who had helped spruce up the pavement with colourful flowers and painted pots with images of Madiba.

The delegation wrote their messages to Mandela on white pebbles and placed them in the garden. They include phrases like, “We love you Madiba” and “You are my inspiration.”

Spencer Davies, a student from Kyalami Preparatory School who had gathered outside the house to celebrate the day, said he was going to use the occasion to help look after animals at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

“It is because of his contribution that South Africa has become a different place and I am able to make friends with people from various races,” said Davies.

MEC Ismail Vadi helps fill up potholes
MEC Ismail Vadi helps fill up potholes
From Houghton it was off to Alexandra, where City Parks, together with mining company African Rainbow Minerals, spent 67 minutes planting 150 trees at River Park. As a symbol of peace and unity, olive trees were among those that were planted.

“In celebrating Tata, Mandela’s birth, we are making a commitment of preserving the environment. I urge everyone present hear to take charge of their living spaces. Today not only are we paying tribute to Madiba, but we are taking a step in building better communities,” said the mayoral committee member for public safety, Matshidiso Mfikoe.

In Protea Glen, in Soweto, the MEC for roads and transport, Ismail Vadi, and his management team filled potholes. They were joined by the Dial Direct Pothole Brigade and hundreds of community members who lent a helping hand.

Vadi also helped paint road markings and erect road signs, as well as cut grass.

“This Mandela Day has given me an opportunity to have a practical experience of what it means to fill a pothole,” he said. “This has been a wonderful way of giving back.”

Playing for Madiba
Playing for Madiba
At Simelane High School in Dobsonville, a member of Cheesekids, a nation-wide volunteer programme linked to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, got dirty painting walls, window and door frames, while others cleaned the school yard on 17 July.

“As young people, we have a responsibility to make a difference in our communities, and we can only achieve that through caring for one another and embracing ubuntu,” said Vuyokazi Nkosi, a team leader at Cheesekids.

In Hillbrow, the BG Alexandra Sports Centre was abuzz with activity during the day-long Madiba Soccer Tournament. Scores of people gathered at the centre to watch 22 teams, both ladies and men battled one another.

The atmosphere was energising and electrifying as the teams took to the soccer pitch. After a gruelling tournament, Berea FC beat Parktown FC 2-1 in the men’s finals to take home the trophy.

In the ladies matches, Madulammogo Stars took on Superstars. They dished out the best entertainment for fans with the flair moves. In the end, Superstars outplayed their opponents with a 3-1 victory.

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