Mandela Day cleans up

On Saturday people all over the world were encouraged to dedicate 67 minutes of their time to changing the world around them for the better as a part of the proposed Mandela Day, in recognition of the 67 years Nelson Mandela has spent making the world a better place.

Although the vast majority of South Africans enjoyed their usual Saturday routine, the participation in the spirit of the day was visible in underprivileged communities nationwide.

Charities and non-profit organisations joined the Nelson Mandela Foundation in creating a mass of events and opportunities for volunteers to participate in the spirit of the day.

Many of the activities involved community clean-ups, such as in Alexandra where residents gathered in the streets to pick up rubbish.

According to the foundation’s website, in central Johannesburg as part of the “Build Your Neighbourhood Campaign”, inner-city residents gathered for 67 minutes to clean a building on the corner of Twist and Wolmarans street.

On the theme of reconciliation, an event in Atteridgeville was held at which more than 200 people gathered to listen to local community leaders reconcile their differences in light of the xenophobic attacks of last year. Atteridgeville Civic Organisation secretary general Ernest Tshavhuyo stood up in front of the crowd to apologise on behalf of the local community and Abdul Hassam of the Somali Association of South Africa accepted the apology on the behalf of the immigrant population by offering for a cow to be slaughtered.

The cow had actually been slaughtered the previous day and the community ate it as a symbol of reconciliation on Mandela Day.

People in both Cape Town and Johannesburg showed generosity on Saturday morning when trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Tokyo Sexwale, hosted the morning show on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk in an effort to raise money for the foundation. The fundraiser set out to raise R600 000 but eventually managed to raise about R2,2-million.

The South African National Blood Service also held a Mandela Day blood drive over the weekend around the country. The SANBS said more people had turned up to donate than they had expected.

Foundation officials along with the help of the South African Qualifications Authority visited disadvantaged children in the greater Pretoria area and donated over 300 books from which the staff spent 67 minutes reading to the underprivileged children.

Despite seeming like an ordinary sleepy winter weekend to many, it appears that an encouraging number of South Africans participated in the multitude of events available on the first of what is hopefully a worldwide day of peace, love and reconciliation.

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