A year-long birth­day party for Madiba

Sunday Times - - Front Page - By TANYA STEENKAMP

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.

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