United Nations in South Africa celebrates Nelson Mandela International Day with students from the Adelaide Tambo School and YMCA Centre in Soweto, Johannesburg

UN staff assist YMCA students with reading activities during Mandela Day celebrations in Soweto, south of Johannesburg

Pretoria, 19 July 2017- The UN in South Africa in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation celebrated Nelson Mandela International Day by brightening the smiles of the physically challenged and less fortunate students of the Adelaide Tambo School and the YMCA in Soweto, south of Johannesburg.

UNIC Pretoria Director, Masimba Tafirenyika addresses the audience on Mandela Day at Adelaide Tambo School in Soweto

UNIC Pretoria Director, Masimba Tafirenyika delivered the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres’s message which said “The best tribute we can pay this great man is not words or in ceremonies, but actions that improve our world”.

Tafirenyika also thanked the two Foundations for sharing Mandela Day with the UN. “Let’s us all live on the legacy of Nelson Mandela”, he said.

To commemorate this day, the Mandela Foundation has urged the international community to identify and establish projects that would reduce poverty across the world.

Speaking for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Maya Makandjee emphasised the crucial friendship that Nelson Mandela shared with Adelaide Tambo during and after the struggle. She said that South Africans should carry the Mandela and Adelaide spirit of unity to build a better South Africa. 

Quoting from Mandela, Makandjee said: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived, it is what difference we made to the lives of others that determines the significance of the life we live”. The Foundation has called on South Africans to dedicate their lives to the cause of justice, equality, unity and poverty reduction not only on Nelson Mandela International Day, but every day in their lives.

In the same spirit of making a difference, the UN in South Africa donated much needed wheelchairs to the students of the school and with the partnership of the Dischem Foundation also donated blankets and other necessities. UN staff actively assisted in the cleaning up of the school and maintenance of the school garden.    

Mr Lindela Memani, the Principal of Adelaide Tambo School, thanked the United Nations in South Africa for the generous donation but also added that as the school is home to differently abled students, they require continuous support.

In 2009, the United Nations (UN) declared Nelson Mandela 18 July as Nelson Mandela International Day in recognition of his contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. “For 67 years, Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humanity-as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa”. For this year’s Mandela Day, the United Nations asked individuals around the world to take steps towards improving life for others.

The UN in South Africa would also like to thank ‘Valco Trading CC’, for their free delivery of the donated items to the school.