Mandela Day: Inspired by Madiba’s love for children and a desire to end their suffering, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund spoiled more than 100 children with a day filled with love and laughter.
The children walked 5km around the Johannesburg Zoo under the theme ‘Walking The Extra Mile Do Vulnerable Children Do Not Have To,’ in honour of Mandela Day and for them to experience the significance of walking for a good cause.
An excited six-year-old Reabetswe Tema encouraged South Africans to make the most out of the day, and #Serve Like Mandela.
She said Mandela Day should not be about what South Africans do not have but what they can do for others in need – serve the less fortunate and better shape children’s lives.
“It is nice to see that we can play our part as children in the country just like Ntate Mandela just by walking around the Zoo and seeing the animals,” she said.
“We should do more to put a smile on the faces of children and those who are less fortunate, not just today but every day.”
The fund launched the Children’s Fun Walk as part of their 27th Annual Children’s Celebration and a celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH), which is the only dedicated children’s hospital in Gauteng.
The fund’s interim chief executive Dr Stanley Maphosa said Mandela appreciated the presence of children, and always celebrated his birthday with them, which is what they wanted to do yesterday, to appreciate and put a smile on “the little one’s faces”.
“Madiba loved children and wanted to ensure that as a society, we could take a moment to bring joy to their lives and celebrate them so they can feel appreciated in spite of the many challenges that they face,” he said.
Mandela Day is celebrated every year on his birthday – 18 July. He was born in 1918.
“We thought launching a Children’s Fun Walk would be a great way to get our beneficiaries to come out again and have fun in public spaces following two years of confinement as a result of the pandemic.”
NMCH’s chief executive Dr Nonkululeko Boikhutso said people who say Mandela Day was not worth celebrating were overlooking the legacy, which was essentially about “sacrificing for your country and serving those in need”.
“Mandela Day for me is not necessarily about Mandela, but the relevance of serving others continues to be true even today.
“People must not just look at this like it’s just about Tata Mandela, yes he made a huge sacrifice for this country, but it’s really about carrying the legacy of serving others,” said Boikhutso.
The fund continues celebrations throughout this month as part of its campaign for people to #ServeLikeMandela, and as a call for everyone to “Walk a Mile” in Mandela’s shoes and follow in his example of being of service to others during International Mandela Month and beyond.