Happy birthday to Madiba

NELSON Mandela, the global icon, turned 92 at the weekend as the world celebrated the first international day in his honour.

Global leaders and ordinary people  in South Africa and abroad committed  to devoting 67 minutes of their time to  community service to mark the number of years Mandela spent in politics.

Last year his birthday was recognised by the UN as Nelson Mandela  International Day.

The frail leader spent the day with  his family at his Johannesburg home  and 100 children from villages around  his childhood home in Eastern Cape .

The family pleaded for privacy but  curious onlookers and neighbours  milled around the residency, hoping to  get a glimpse of the icon.

Local politicians united in wishing the anti-apartheid icon well on  his birthday, with international  leaders hailing his contribution to  global politics and the fight for  human rights.

President Jacob Zuma led the  celebrations in Mvezo, Mandela’s  birthplace. He was joined by Mandela’s grandson, Chief Mandla, and  UDM leader Bantu Holomisa.

Addressing those gathered  Zuma said: “Madiba’s 67 years of  uninterrupted and selfless service  to the people of South Africa and  the world culminated in the birth of  a new South Africa, united in diversity.

“We urge a continuation of this  spirit of African unity, love and  friendship.”

Zuma thanked all South Africans  who dedicated 67 minutes to  improve the lives of others in honour of Mandela’s 92nd birthday.

Mandela used to celebrate his  birthday by throwing a feast for the  village, with several cows being  slaughtered.

“Today is an opportunity for millions of people around the world to  look inside themselves and find  those beautiful qualities as any  human being has and say: ‘I am able  to make a difference to my neighbour, to someone underprivileged, I  can extend my goodness to other  people,” Mandela’s wife Graça  Machel said.

Mandela stepped down as president in 1999 after serving one  term in office. He is still revered  around the world for promoting  peace and fighting against racism  and HIV-Aids through his 46664  campaign.

On February 11 South Africa celebrated the 20th anniversary of  Mandela’s release from prison.

The Bojanala district municipality, North West, spent Mandela Day  patching up potholes on a road  notorious for accidents in rural  Moretele local municipality, which  falls under Bojanala.

The road is the main link for the  people of Makapanstad, near Hammanskraal, to Pretoria and other  economic centres.

“Many cars have been damaged  on this road while trying to avoid  the potholes or actually hitting a  pothole.

“The problem is that it is a main  road for the people here. They rely  on this road to link them to their  jobs,” Bojanala mayor Ray Motsepe  said.

“We are declaring war on potholes.”

In Cape Town DA leader Helen  Zille said the ANC had long ago  stopped symbolising Mandela’s  example of selflessness, integrity,  nonracialism and freedom for all  under the law.

She said the ANC rally yesterday  in Mvezo, Qunu, had actually been  paid for by Parliament.

Zille also slammed the ANC for  trying to link Zuma and Mandela in  the public mind.

 “The ANC is doing all it can to  create the illusion that Jacob Zuma  is the custodian of Madiba’s legacy.  He is not,” Zille said.

 Khayelitsha township was  awash with volunteers who planted  dozens of trees and painted  schools.

At the Nomsa Mapongwana Primary School, Mandela Park, Iziko  Museums teamed up with the Cape  Peninsula University of Technology to plant a food garden for the  school.

On the other side of the township  Hollywood star Morgan Freeman  was set to help a group of celebrity  bikers erect a fence around a community health centre.

Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale  and housing MEC Soviet Lekganyane handed over 67 houses to  families in Mankweng.

“We must take example from the  humiliation and sufferings that  our icon, Mandela, went through  in an effort to change our lives,  both black and white, man and  woman, for the better,” Mathale  said to thunderous applause from  delighted residents.

 Home Affairs Minister  Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma led a  campaign of distributing IDs to  senior citizens at the Bulwer Hall in KwaZulu-Natal.

In their contribution to the day,  the residents of the new RDP housing settlement in Alexandra opened  a new park.

With the help of Johannesburg  City Parks, the City of Johannesburg’s greening, recreation and  cemetery agency, the community  planted 670 trees, some of which  were planted in the park.

Johannesburg City Parks started  the commemorations by planting a  92nd tree – representing Mandela’  age – at Thokoza Park in Soweto. They then moved to Houghton,  near Mandela’s home, before heading for Alexandra.

Note: Nelson RolihlahlaMandela was born on 18 July 1918