Children perform during the Mandela Day celebrations in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Thursday. CHEN CHENG/XINHUA
On Thursday, South Africans marked the International Nelson Mandela Day with commitments to fight poverty.
Several activities, including donations and visiting the sick, took place across the country under the theme of action against poverty.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa started off his celebrations with a visit to RX Radio, the Red Cross Children’s Hospital radio station, staffed by children at the hospital in Rondebosch. Most of the children at the hospital have disabilities or are suffering from chronic diseases.
As a studio guest, Ramaphosa was interviewed by the young radio anchors. He said he was touched by the children’s hope, evident on their faces and their articulate questions as they interviewed him, despite the many health challenges they are grappling with.
Ramaphosa said Mandela, who would be celebrating his 101st birthday, acted like a father to many children across the globe. He admitted to having learned a lot of virtues from Mandela, which he is committed to applying in his leadership.
Patricia de Lille, minister for public works and infrastructure, spent Mandela Day at Athlone in Cape Town, where she donated 20 computers to Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children.
The minister also participated in various activities together with the women and the children at the center. The activities included gardening, crowning of trees, pruning of branches, weeding, mowing grass, and planting trees.
Noxolo Kiviet, the deputy minister, commemorated the day at iKhaya lo Xolo Old Age Home in Gugulethu, Cape Town, where she donated 30 curtains.
The department staff who had accompanied the deputy minister, spent the day painting, gardening and cleaning the old age home.
Barbara Creecy, the minister for environment, forestry and fisheries, together with volunteers from Bridgetown, Atlhone, and pupils from Cypress Primary School, braved the cold weather to participate in a World Wide Fund for Nature led cleanup.
Chinese companies operating in South Africa were also not left out of the donation activities.
Huawei South Africa, donated $144,190 in scholarships to ICT and engineering postgraduate students at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
Graca Machel, the widow of Nelson Mandela, called on South Africans to view Mandela Day as their lifestyle, instead of an event.
“Mandela Day is a reminder that any one of us has the power to take initiative and drive transformation. Decide on the difference you can make to people throughout the year so that it becomes a lifestyle,” she said.
Mandela Day was officially declared by the United Nations in 2009, four years before South Africa’s first democratically elected president died at the age of 95.