Celebrate a century of Madiba


Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 on the 18 July 2018 if he had lived. To celebrate his centenary the Nelson Mandela Foundation is planning a year of events to honour his memory.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Sello Hatang is encouraging children from around the world to write letters to Madiba. (Image: Brand South Africa reporter)

Brand South Africa reporter

The Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018 campaign was launched at the YMCA in Orlando on 13 February 2017. The community centre is part of Madiba’s legacy – it was here that he trained and boxed in his youth.

Singer Unathi Msengana opened proceedings by explaining the living legacy that uTata had bequeathed South Africa and the world. She recalled hearing him speak 27 years ago of freedom, determination and courage and how we, his heirs, needed to live his purpose.

We were all beneficiaries of his legacy she explained, and we needed to live as he did. “uTata knew how important communication was. He spoke one language, that language is love. Thoughtful. Intuitive. This is the legacy of uTata. Twenty seven years ago he spoke of freedom, determination and courage. This was his purpose that we need to fulfil.”

The foundation also observed the 27th anniversary of Madiba’s release from prison and his address to thousands at Orlando Stadium on 13 February. Sello Hatang, CEO of the foundation, explained: “As we reflect on Madiba’s first moments of freedom it is important that we do not isolate them from the present South African experience.

“We must all work to build the world of Nelson Mandela’s dreams.” The question we must ask ourselves, that he wanted us to ask ourselves is – Are we on course to do just that?

The centenary of Madiba’s birth is only next year, however the foundation believes that restricting celebrations to July 2018 would hamper a full celebration of Madiba’s legacy. Instead, it intends to roll out a year of events including sports and cultural events and a travelling display of clothing worn by Mandela through his life.

The yearlong celebration will also allow the foundation to celebrate Mandela’s legacy alongside his great friend and comrade OR Tambo, whose centenary celebrations run through this year. While both men are still venerated past leaders, Hatang says there are lessons still to be learnt from their lives. “This is a day to look back for key lessons to take forward. To build the future we want they are the leaders we look to know if we are on course.”

“I am from here”

Tokyo Sexwale, a foundation trustee, reminded the audience during his keynote address that Madiba’s life exemplified the dream the country shared at the dawn of democracy. His life, Sexwale maintained, “epitomises a feeling of unity in a country where today there is discord”.

Keynote speaker Tokyo Sexwale reminded the audience, “Madiba is the compass that helps us correct our path.” (Image: Brand South Africa reporter)

He and Mandela shared not only a life in Orlando but a belief in a South Africa built on the promotion of democracy, prosperity, health and education.

“Some people may say that Mandela is the past. The past is the pointer of the future. Madiba is the compass that helps us correct our path, to balance the journey of life. Mandela is the embodiment of the spirit of non-racialism, non-sexism, unity, democracy and prosperity.”

Dear Mandela… Sorry You Died For Me”

The foundation is encouraging members of the public to work with it and to share ideas about events that can be held under the auspices of the centenary. It wants people whose lives were touched by Madiba to feel that they are engaged with the celebrations of a man who shaped the world.

The Foundation is encouraging children whose lives were touched by Madiba to submit their handwritten letters. (Image: Brand South Africa reporter)

It is especially proud of the idea of publishing a book of letters from children to Madiba. Called Letters to Madiba, it will be published in 2018. The foundation is encouraging children to send their handwritten letters to them. You can either use your local post office or send a digital copy through the foundation’s website.

The Soweto Gospel Choir serenaded guests with their repertoire of Mandela and Soweto inspired songs. (Image: Brand South Africa reporter)

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