Mandela Day: Cape Town pours its heart out

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

If deceased icon Nelson Mandela could see what South Africans were up to yesterday he would in all likelihood be smiling.

That’s what his long-time friend Archbishop Desmond Tutu said yesterday, after dedicating his 67 minutes to reading for children at the V&A Waterfront.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu reads to children at the V&A Waterfront on Mandela Day. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Archbishop Desmond Tutu reads to children at the V&A Waterfront on Mandela Day. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Sixty-seven is a symbolic amount of time that one can spend for a good cause on Mandela Day. The latter was marked by acts of kindness countrywide yesterday.

Tutu said: “Mandela is looking down and he’s seeing all of this and he’s smiling.”

Asked why he dedicated his time to read a book – about Mandela – to children, he said: “Mandela loved, loved children.”

Tutu and his daughter Rev. Mpho Tutu partnered with Breadline Africa yesterday to treat children from the Masande Educare Centre in Khayelitsha. Breadline handed over three containers to Ntombentsha Sobekwa who has run the educare in a shack since 2009.

“The containers will be helpful as the children will now be in a safe place,” said Sobekwa.

It was the first time that she met Tutu. She said he, like Mandela, “gave us hope during the Struggle that one day we will be free”.

Mayor Patricia de Lille served tea and cake to pensioners at Alexandra Cottages in Maitland. This home for the aged is run by the City of Cape Town and houses 21 residents. De Lille also donated walking sticks and wheelchairs to the elderly residents.

Cape Town's Mayor Patricia de Lille spent time with pensioners at Alexandra Cottages in Maitland. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Cape Town’s Mayor Patricia de Lille spent time with pensioners at Alexandra Cottages in Maitland. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

She said: “The elderly in our community is very important. Getting old can be very lonely. We should be looking after them all the time. I will come out again to greet them.”

“It was nice for me to serve them and make tea and coffee for them. It’s a way to say thank you for the beautiful country they built for us.”

Resident Elsie Dilma, 86, has lived at Alexandra for years and said she needed the wheelchair. She has lived at Alexandra for 22 years. It was the first time that they celebrated Mandela Day.

“Today was very nice. We appreciate it. There are many people who don’t have the privilege that was have,” she said.

Feeding the city’s less-privileged folk was among the popular Mandela Day initiatives yesterday. Athlone-based non-profit Mustadafin Foundation partnered with Pick n Pay to cook stew and rice for 6007 people in various Cape Flats areas and townships.

Volunteers spent the morning chopping vegetables and by midday pots of food were nearly done.

Ebrahim Smith, disaster coordinator for Mustadafin, said they “have the same objectives of Madiba so we want to continue his legacy”.

“We don’t want anybody to go to sleep hungry because that is an oppression,” said Smith.

In Khayelitsha, Christina Kaba received groceries that listeners of local radio station KFM donated yesterday morning. Kaba runs a vegetable garden and soup kitchen that feeds children and ill persons.

Kaba cried when KFM presenters started unpacking food in her kitchen to be distributed to locals in need.

“They make me cry. I always do all of this on my own and try to help people. But today I see there’s a hand that can help. Mandela said people should stand together to build our country. That’s what I’m trying to do,” she said.

John Jeffery, deputy minister for justice and constitutional development, meanwhile painted pink the holding cell for women at the Caledon Square police station on Buitenkant Street.

Jeffery said staffers in the department’s Western Cape office also cleaned local courtrooms.

“It’s important to show leadership, to show people in the department that one is also prepared to work,” he said.

Knitting meanwhile kept Nthabiseng Ntsondwa busy at the Mandela Rhodes hotel on Wale Street. She and other volunteers knitted parts of blankets for the Little Fighters Cancer Trust. The latter assists children with cancer and their families.

Ntsondwa said: “Mandela brought people together. As much as South Africa is a Rainbow Nation, we have many cracks. The fact that we can come together is great way of healing.”

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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