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Hundreds of Joburgers filled Nelson Mandela Square to record a birthday song for the former president, who turns 94 on 18 July.
NELSON Mandela will have a pleasant surprise a month before his 94th birthday when the video, in which South Africans sing happy birthday to him, is released online.

Artists Madiba is celebrating his 94th birthday in JulyGiven his international standing, the video is expected to go viral. The father of democratic South Africa was serenaded for his upcoming birthday, on 18 July, at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, in northern Joburg, on 29 May.

This initiative by Lead SA, the Department of Basic Education and the Shout Foundation was supported by Brand South Africa, as well as the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Proudly SA. A crowd of over 400 people gathered to record the song.

Present at the event were Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga; Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the minister of home affairs; Anitha Soni, from the board of directors of Brand South Africa; and musicians, TV personalities and sports stars.

Lead SA’s Yusuf Abramjee said: “Thanks to all the South Africans from all walks of life who took their time to join us and sing to our wonderful Madiba.”

The video and recording of the song will be released online on 18 June, a month before his birthday.

An icon honoured
Moss Mashishi, the former president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, said: “If you consider how Madiba is a world icon and how he has helped the brand called South Africa, then this is just a good gesture from us to tell our hero that we love him and wish him a happy birthday.”

Home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-ZumaHome affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma sings Happy Birthday to MadibaYoung and old joined the group, and made sure they lent their voices to the recording by singing loudly and filling the square with joyful ululating. Mpho Selepe, from Orlando in Soweto, said: “I work in Melrose but I had to come and be part of this great initiative for an icon.”

South Africans need no second invitation to gather for a cause, as they did in the square, in a spirit of camaraderie. Soni said: “This is just wonderful. Give South Africans an opportunity to come together and they’ll never cease to amaze you – happy birthday, Madiba.”

Soni was reiterating the fact that South Africans can put aside other things happening in the country when asked to rally together – another such occasion was when thousands gathered in the same location to give the Springboks, South Africa’s national rugby team, a memorable send-off to the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Lesley Sedibe, the chief executive of Proudly SA, said: “We are celebrating a man who, when he came out of prison, brought South African together through his own humility when naysayers thought that South Africa was on the brink of collapse.

“This one is very special as Madiba turns 94and he became the first democratically elected president of South Africa in 1994.”

Yvonne Chaka ChakaA host of celebrated musicians including Yvonne Chaka Chaka took part in the recordingMandela was inaugurated as president on 10 May1994, after the country’s first free general election had taken place on 27 April. The latter date is now celebrated as Freedom Day.

Mandela’s day
Dlamini-Zuma said: “Your presence here shows just how much Madiba is loved and we welcome it. We are calling on all South Africans to take 67 minutes of their day to do good on his birthday.”

She was referring to the annual International Nelson Mandela Day, proclaimed in 2009 by the UN General Assembly. On this day, 18 July, people across the globe are urged “to take action to help change the world for the better and, in doing so, build a global movement for good”.

They are urged to take just 67 minutes of their lives to contribute to making the world a better place for the next person. It comes from the 67 years Mandela spent working for a better world.

International Nelson Mandela Day was launched this year on 23 May at Tlhatlogang Junior Secondary School in White City Jabavu, Soweto.

Hundreds of people including government officials and celebrities took part in the recording of a birthday song for Madiba in Sandton on Tuesday, 29 May. Watch video.
Here, singer Danny K, rapper and presenter ProVerb, model and presenter Bonang Matheba, and fashion designer Gert Johan Coetzee painted the walls of two container classrooms at the school. They were joined by officials from the UN Information Centre as well as employees of several large corporates.


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