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​With the example of South Africa’s iconic former president in mind, a group of celebrities helped improve the learning environment for pupils at a Soweto school.
TLHATLOGANG Junior Secondary School in Soweto was the first to benefit from activities leading up to Mandela Day when celebrities descended on the school to clean and repair it on May 23, immediately after the Mandela Day 2012 launch, which was held at the Hector Pieterson Museum in Orlando.

Achmat DangorCEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation Achmat DangorThe launch ceremony was attended by Achmat Dangor, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Helen Hoedl, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Deputy Director, whose presence was due to the fact that it was the United Nations which declared Nelson Mandela’s birthday, 18 July, an international day of commemoration.

In a bid to honour Madiba’s 67 years of public service South Africans are encouraged to spend 67 minutes on the day doing community work.

At the school two classrooms were painted, door handles fixed and the schoolyard cleaned by well-known musicians and television stars, who left their comfort zones to help make the environment more pleasant for learners at the school.

Among the celebrities were hip-hop heavyweights Proverb and Tuks Senganga, RnB sensation Danny K and the afro-pop duo, Jaziel Brothers. Television and radio personality Bonang Matheba and cutting edge fashion designer Gert Johan Coetzee were also involved in the launch.

Celebrities get down to workCelebrities get down to workWhen the group arrived at the school in White City, pupils – the girls dressed in their navy blue tunics and powder blue shirts, the boys wearing grey trousers – could not contain their excitement. The girls screamed while the boys whistled and waved.

Dangor said the aim of Mandela Day is to encourage people to follow Madiba’s example by giving some of their time to help others and the emphasis for Nelson Mandela Day 2012 is on instilling good values in young people through education.

“The example of Madiba, who came from a rural background, shows that each individual has the ability to take responsibility and begin to change the world,” said Dangor.

Speaking of the collaboration of the foundation with the Department of Basic Education he said it had come to the foundation’s attention that about 90 percent of disadvantaged schools do not have libraries. To address the problem the foundation and the department have launched a Container Library Project and the 94+ School Project, through which historically disadvantaged schools will be improved and literacy will be encouraged.

Mandela Day
Helen HoedlHelen Hoedl: Mandela Day an ongoing commitmentIn her keynote address Hoedl spoke about the importance of Mandela Day, which “recognises Mandela’s outstanding contribution to the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic country”. Since the launch of Mandela Day, she said, millions of people have been inspired to commemorate Mandela’s life and to contribute to making the world a better place. “Mandela Day is not just an event, it is an ongoing commitment,” said Hoedl.

Bonang Matheba said she was honoured to be involved. Together with the Nelson Mandela Foundation she has started a campaign called Carry Yourself with Confidence, which supplies girls with sanitary towels and basic hygiene products, giving them confidence and acting “as a big sister to them”.

The highly confident and motivated 25-year-old Matheba said she is targeting 66.7-million girls this year.

Danny K challenged his fellow musicians to inspire and lead by example, as Mandela did. On Mandela Day he will be in Alexandra with members of his organisation, Shout, teaching youngsters how to play basketball.

This year’s Mandela Day slogan is “Make Every Day a Mandela Day”. Elaborating on this theme, Sello Hatang, the foundation’s spokesperson, said the aim was to encourage people to continue with good deeds after Mandela Day was over. The Mandela Day website carries a list of 25 suggested activities.

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