Celebrating six ‘ordinary heroes’

4 September 2006

To mark the start of Heritage Month, the International Marketing Council of SA (IMC) has launched a series of made-for-television vignettes featuring six ordinary South Africans who “have become true heroes through their extraordinary actions”.

Speaking at the launch in Johannesburg on Thursday, IMC CEO Yvonne Johnston said South Africa’s people, “through their collective values and personality, are our most valuable heritage, and these six heroes epitomise the Brand South Africa values of ubuntu, ‘can-do’ attitude and caring strength.”

The vignettes, Johnston said, “encapsulated the spirit of possibility within South Africa”.

The six South Africans profiled in the short documentaries include the head of a women’s housing co-operative, the founder of the world’s first Aids hospice, and a car thief turned businessman.

The IMC tells their stories:

Thembi NkambuleThembi Nkambule
Thembi Nkambule heads up the Masisizane Women’s Housing Services Cooperative. She and her group of unemployed women used to save their bread money every week, buy bricks and build houses for themselves. When they had built their first 20 houses, the government stepped in, trained them and gave them a brick-making machine. With gifts which came to them via a German TV station’s viewers, they have now completed 300 houses in Ivory Park Informal Settlement north of Johannesburg.

Sister CorineSister Corine
With her firm belief in God and a series of miracles, Sister Corine opened the world’s first Aids hospice in Roodepoort, Johannesburg. She notes some of the miracles: moving from nursing to the ministry, getting a house for the first Aids sufferers, getting food and a bond when there was no money. She replaces fear and hopelessness with dignity and cheerfulness, giving her patients the feeling that theirs is not a death sentence but a challenge which can be overcome through medication, a joyful spirit and prayer.

Vusi NdhlovuVusi Ndhlovu
Vusi Ndhlovu is living proof that in South Africa there is always a way. He went from convicted car thief to successful businessman. He completed his schooling in jail, paid attention to the teachings of the criminal rehabilitation programmes and on his release decided to re-open the family business, which now realises an annual turnover of R1.2-million.

Diane LaingDianne Lang
Psychologist Dianne Lang’s mission is to make a difference to the suffering of others. When her children left home, Lang moved to one of the most destitute communities in the country and opened a home for abused, abandoned and HIV-positive children. Her home now caters for up to 60 children 24 hours a day and feeds over 100 more. She fights against their emotional stress and accompanying victim mentality. While she and a group of volunteers have changed the day-to-day lives of these children, Lang has also managed to change their perceptions from one of impending death to one of life.

Justice BekebekeJustice Bekebeke
Justice Bekebeke did what South Africa did – he set himself free. He went from being a condemned murderer to heading an electoral office in the Northern Cape under the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and to observing the US presidential elections in 2004. His guiding light was Namibian activist Anton Lubowski, who was assassinated in 1989. Bekebeke says that he never saw Lubowski as white or an Afrikaner, but as a comrade. When his death sentence was commuted and he left jail, Bekebeke vowed to be like Lubowski: a lawyer who makes a difference.

Paseko NcholoPaseka Ncholo
When Dr Paseka Ncholo’s younger brother was brutally murdered, Ncholo decided to reach out to the murderer’s family. Rejecting revenge, he took over the financial and medical responsibility of the perpetrator’s HIV-positive parents and the education of his two young siblings. A lawyer by training, Ncholo is now a successful and active businessman who personifies the spirit of Nelson Mandela in rebuilding the country through forgiveness and the upliftment of others.

SouthAfrica.info reporter

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