A year-long birthday party for Madiba
It’s going to be a birthday party like South Africa has never seen before. Today marks the national launch of a year-long celebration of the life of Nobel peace prize laureate Nelson Mandela, who was born almost 100 years ago, on July 18. It is also the 28th anniversary of Mandela being released from prison. Among the “gifts” to celebrate the occasion are a rose, two TV series, a movie, a book, a commemorative R5 coin, a German stamp, a song by Black Coffee and even a Mandela haircut campaign. This week saw the unveiling of the Mandela rose — a dream of horticulturist Keith Kirsten, who met Mandela in 1993 while planting roses in Alexandra township. “For me personally it’s always been something I wanted to do. Roses are named after famous people all over the world, so why not after Mandela?” said Kirsten. He searched the globe and the winner was a tough, vermillion orange rose bred by a UK man. He said the symbolic rose represented love and the “vibrancy of Madiba”. In two or three months the plants will be available for less than R100. Proceeds will go to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. Lesego Maforah, project co-ordinator and manager of the centenary programme, said 2018 was “a great opportunity to reflect why [Mandela] became such a global icon”. “We are trying to shift from 67 minutes towards a call to action, which is to make every day a Mandela Day. People should continue over time to do positive work in their societies and communities.” He said there were two TV series and a movie to look forward to this year. “The Next Madiba is a reality series around identifying individuals who aspire to be like him and share his values, where participants will run through exercises where they engage with history and the legacy of Madiba.”
The second, Being Mandela, is a reflective work and will have interviews with various people who engaged with Madiba.
Both series were expected to be released in the second half of the year and would be broadcast on either SABC-TV or one of DStv’s South African channels, he said.
A documentary, Mandela — A True Pan-Africanist, commissioned by the National Film and Video Foundation, will tell the story of Mandela’s African travels in 1962 through witness accounts and archive footage.
Directed by Faith Isiakpere, it will be released on Mandela Day.
Towards the end of the year a book, Children’s Letters to Madiba, will be published, with translated letters from children around the world to Mandela. “We’re asking kids to reflect on the world since he’s been gone. Kids have a way of being brutally honest and innocent,” said Maforah.
Commemorative R5 coins will soon be in circulation and R25 collector’s edition gold and silver coins will be available on order.
A stamp has been designed in conjunction with the German postal service and will be available in Germany and South Africa.
Maforah said Black Coffee had committed to releasing a song dedicated to Mandela. It would feature big international names and proceeds would go to a charitable cause.
To get everyone in the Mandela spirit, South Africans will be encouraged to wear the Mandela haircut through a social media campaign called Shave to Remember.
The iconic cut recreates the shaved parting on the left of Mandela’s head, made famous at the Rivonia trial.
Lunga Nene, media liaison officer for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said: “It’s not just about people shaving their heads, it’s about what they remember about him. It’s more about storytelling.”
The Nelson Mandela rose, top, is a tough, vermillion orange flower. The commemorative collector’s coin, below, bears a Mandela quote.