19 July 2011
Nelson Mandela was honoured with a standing ovation by 20 000 South Africans gathered at Giyani stadium in Limpopo province to celebrate his 93rd birthday on Monday.
The crowd rose to their feet and started singing: “Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela, ha hona ya tshwanang le wena” (Nelson Mandela there is no one like you).
Addressing the Mandela Day celebration, Premier Cassel Mathale described Mandela as one of the pillars of the country’s liberation struggle.
“We are gathered here to celebrate the tall giant of our freedom, and we are not alone,” Mathale said. “We are also joined by billions around the world. But to us as South Africans, this day means a lot because we’ve produced Mandela.”
Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile said: “We are gathered to celebrate the birthday of a South African icon, a living legend, father and grandfather, freedom-fighter and a great son of the soil, the first president of a democratic South Africa and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.”
In today’s environment, Mashatile said, the word “change” should be used to drive the fight against injustice, especially in the context of achieving the Millennium Development Goals – which seek to create a more equal global society.
This change, said Mashatile, should encompass an inclusive global economy and support for initiatives to tackle climate change and HIV/Aids.
The minister encouraged South Africans to take action in improving the lives of communities who needed a helping hand.
“Through this public gathering, we hope to encourage all sectors of South African society to give at least 67 minutes of their time doing something good for others.
“We need to ensure that the significance of Mandela Day is understood, cultivated, inculcated and nurtured in the minds and imaginations of the present generation.”
Mashatile also emphasized the need to use Mandela Day as a vehicle to foster social cohesion, nation building, economic development and inclusive citizenship.
“We need to use this day to promote an inclusive national identity and to encourage unity in diversity among all sectors of the South African society and a culture of tolerance among our people.
“We need to create awareness through educational programmes, dialogues and public engagements on the importance of Nelson Mandela Day; to raise awareness, build a caring nation and illustrate the importance of Nelson Mandela Day to the youth, the ‘born free’ generations and the public at large.”