More than 67 minutes
TWENTY-SIX bikers, more than 2 200km of rural roads, and 67 minutes of hands-on work at seven community projects in four provinces over the past week have seen probably the most dramatic and heavily publicised initiative honouring Mandela Day.
Bikers for Mandela Day was planned to set off on July 11 and return today.
The drive is to reinforce the new Nelson Mandela Foundation initiative that asks individuals worldwide to give 67 minutes of their time every week to do a good deed to benefit people in need in the community or environment in which they live.
The biking contingent revved out of Montecasino, Johannesburg, on July 11 and over eight days roared across Gauteng, the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and, finally Swaziland, ending in Pretoria this morning.
During their journey the group visited seven rural communities and were actively involved in revamping children's playgrounds, planting trees, preparing vegetable gardens, serving food in soup kitchens, and helping to build houses, refurbish orphanages and community safe houses.
Public figures such as 5FM DJ Fresh, singer Bok van Blerk, newsreader Angie Khumalo, actress Hanna Grobler, and Survivor SA: Maldives winner and Binnelanders actor Hykie Berg were part of the week-long team.
Bike SA writer Saint Seseli, well-known off-road motorbike trainer Jan du Toit (Jan Staal) and sports presenter John Walland also joined the bikers.
Zelda la Grange, Nelson Mandela's executive assistant for more than 17 years, said Bikers for Mandela Day is a call to action for people everywhere to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place, one small step at a time, just as Mandela himself did.
"We all know someone who's got something to give to someone else. For me, Mandela Day is all about organising those 'someones' and ensuring that they give back to the community in a lasting and sustainable way.
"We use celebrity profiles in the Biking for Mandela Day project to elevate the campaign and to demonstrate to people that if a DJ Fresh, a Bok van Blerk or an Ivan Zimmerman can get their hands dirty, then so can any ordinary people. We're appealing to people to follow the example of their celebrities," La Grange said.
Carrying the badge of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Bikers for Mandela Day drive is funded by Vodacom and Spar.
The initiative also has the backing of the humanitarian awareness organisation 46664, which has selected the project as key to its mission of furthering the humanitarian legacy of Nelson Mandela.
Mthobi Tyamzashe, Vodacom's executive director for Corporate Social Investment (CSI) within the Vodacom Foundation, praises the bikers initiative for showing people that finding ways to help is easier than people think.
"When people are asked to do something to help they tend to think only of sophisticated things, big projects requiring large teams and huge resources, and the concept of helping becomes overwhelming," Tyamzashe said.
"But the Bikers for Mandela Day shows people just how easy it is to help. Simply by using your hands, you can build, dig, plant, support, feed - the list is endless.
"The project shows that action is what is needed. When the dust settles after the bikers have left, all we wish for is that the initiative has helped to give hope, uplift and empower the people of those communities, and show them that people care."
The bikers' schedule was a busy one. The first day saw the bikers helping to restore and paint playground equipment for a children's home near Harrismith.
The next day they planted a garden and cleaned the monument at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick, where Nelson Mandela was captured in 1962.
Third day: the bikers installed shelves, helped prepare food and planted a vegetable garden at a school and orphanage in Eshowe.
Then on Thursday the team headed for Jozini, where they worked with several community organisations in a soup kitchen, before doing repairs and improvements in the home of a child-headed household.
Then the group roared into Swaziland on Friday, where they laid a symbolic wreath at Samora Machel's memorial site in Mbuzini.
Day six saw the bikers in Nelspruit, where they worked with the Nelspruit Community Forum to restore a care-centre house for orphans, donated school uniforms and clothing to a shelter for homeless children, and upgraded a playground at a disability centre in Hazyview.
Then yesterday, on their final leg, the team planted a vegitable garden at an orphanage in Graskop, then roared to Belfast to where they revamped a children's home.
Sello Hatang, information and communications manager for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said the Bikers for Mandela Day should inspire people around the world to make any constructive change, starting today, on the former statesman's birthday.
"The principles Nelson Mandela espouses encourage us all to take responsibility for ourselves, but also to understand our responsibility to others. Sacrifices can be giving of one's time, a donation, supporting a local organisation.
"There are so many positive ways in which to improve our own lives, and more importantly, the lives of others," Hatang said.
"The activities of those involved this past week provide a good example of the kinds of things people can do in their own communities to better the lives of others less privileged. The bikers helped to spread the ethos of Mandela Day across rural South Africa," he said.