9 July 2013
With Mandela Day fast approaching, the life of Nelson Mandela should be celebrated, the grandson of the former president, Ndaba Mandela, said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria ahead of the first match by visiting English Premier League club Manchester City at the weekend as part of the Nelson Mandela Football Invitational, Naba Mandela said the former statesman should be celebrated.
“It’s time to celebrate his life. The old man is very much breathing, he’s very much alive,” he said.
Mandela remains in a critical but stable condition in the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, where he was admitted on 8 June for a recurring lung infection. He is due to celebrate his 95th birthday on 18 July.
“The old man is very much breathing, he’s very much alive, when I speak to him he responds. Let us not be in a spirit of sadness but rather in a spirit of celebration because the old man is still with us,” said Ndaba Mandela.
Manchester City, the 2012 English Premier League champions, will play SuperSport United at Loftus Versveld in Pretoria on Sunday. At the match a giant birthday card in the honour of the former president will be available for the public to sign.
Funding received through the staging of the match will go towards the refurbishment of schools in Mandela’s home village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape. Funds will be distributed through Africa Rising, an organization that empowers young Africans to be at the forefront of the continent’s development.
“We will be using the funding to refurbish some of the schools that are very dilapidated in our village of Qunu,” said Ndaba Mandela, who is also the chairman of Africa Rising.
“Our village has about 10 schools, both primary and high schools. We will also be building a learning centre where children will be taught the importance of using technology for empowering themselves in the 21st century.”
Tickets for Sunday’s match, which range between R95, R150, R250 and R350, are available at Computicket.
Manchester City will take on Durban-based PSL side AmaZulu at the Moses Mabhida Stadium the following weekend, on 18 July, coinciding with Mandela’s 95th birthday and with Nelson Mandela International Day.
The City of Tshwane said the matches would help to highlight Mandela Day and the 67 minutes for Madiba campaign to a worldwide audience as South Africa celebrates the legacy of the globally loved former statesman.
The match at Loftus will kick off at 3pm on Sunday afternoon.
The giant card which the public can sign at the two matches reads: “To a larger than life icon, we dedicate a larger than life birthday card. Happy Birthday Madiba”.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, President Jacob Zuma said that Mandela remained in a critical but stable condition.
“We thank the public for the dignified gatherings outside the hospital,” Zuma said. “Many groupings and individuals have gathered in dignity, respecting the privacy of Madiba, other patients, their families or the hospital personnel.
“The prayer services around the country are also appreciated. We thank the international community as well for ongoing messages of support to Madiba and his family.”