It's the power of one as never seen before.
From the farthest dorpie to the poorest township, from the city lights of New York to the glitterati of Cape Town’s jet set, Nelson Mandela has galvanised the world into doing good deeds on his birthday that will leave a lasting legacy.
For 67 minutes people the world over are giving of their time and energy to commemorate Madiba’s birthday in a way that will leave the world just a little better than before the iconic leader’s 93rd birthday today.
As the CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Achmat Dangor, said, the response to Mandela Day internationally and locally has been phenomenal.
He said it was extraordinary as people from all walks of life wanted to participate in the day.
“Mandela Day is a global movement for good. We are creating a legacy to change the world for the better. We have had great interest in the day from people from other parts of Africa, Europe and Asia,” said Dangor.
The man once demonised as a “terrorist” and jailed for 27 years, has propelled people to perform acts of kindness ranging from renovating a prison at Westville Durban into a more conducive home for the kids of women prisoners, to raising R3m at an auction of the Mandela hand print canvas in Cape Town attended by the who’s who of the Mother City.
Companies, charities and celebrities have all announced plans for the day.
A group of bikers left Johannesburg at the beginning of last week to cross the country doing voluntary work in poor communities. Their 2200-km trip ends today. These Bikers for Mandela, Hollywood star Morgan Freeman – who has played Madiba in several films – and Richard Branson will all deliver messages to Madiba.
UN officials also want people to sign up for 67 minutes of voluntary work – a minute for every year Madiba devoted himself to the political struggle.
“Together, the best way we can thank Nelson Mandela for his work is by taking action for others and inspiring change,” said UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in a statement.
Even local politicians have taken a break from their bickering and power broking to do their bit.
Today, executive mayor of Johannesburg Parks Tau, businessman Patrice Motsepe and pupils from St Mary’s marimba band will plant a tree on the lawns of the SABC to mark Mandela’s birthday. They will then move to Madiba’s Houghton, Johannesburg, home, where along with City Park employees they will make over the Madiba home sidewalk.
Mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille announced plans for a permanent exhibition in Mandela’s honour at the city’s old town hall.
Even taxi organisations are pitching in, with the SA National Taxi Council undertaking to clean and paint the Itsoseng Self Help Organisation for Disabled Children in QwaQwa, Free State.