South African schools to honor Mandela Day

Updated: 2013-07-16 03:33


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JOHANNESBURG - The South African Department of Basic Education (DBE) on Monday called on all schools in the country to honor ailing former President Nelson Mandela's birthday and pray for his recovery.

Mandela, who has spend 38 days battling for life in a Pretoria hospital, will turn 95 on July 18, which is also the Nelson Mandela International Day.

"The changes we enjoy today are the fruits of the toil of towering icons the stature of Tata Madiba (Mandela). It can only be a privilege for every learner and every citizen to observe in song and reflect in prayer the 95th birthday of our former President, Nelson Mandela," Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said at a press briefing in Pretoria.

He said top department officials will be at various schools on Thursday to take part in Mandela Day activities.

"Our children's education has a special place in Madiba's heart and is at the center of our legacy work and mandate to contribute towards a sustainable future through the promotion of social justice," Nelson Mandela Center of Memory Chief Executive officer Sello Hatang said.

"Initiatives such as these display a passionate wish to see Nelson Mandela's legacy being kept alive and made available to the world," he added.

South Africa Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development expert Clever Chikwanda said Mandela Day is important to South Africa and must be used as a remainder to build his legacy and realize his dreams, which includes advancement in education.

Yusuf Abramjee, chairperson of Lead SA, a social cohesion initiative aimed at supporting efforts by South African citizens, said schools should use the opportunity to reflect on Madiba's legacy.

"Let's follow Tata's example of serving others," he said.

This year's Nelson Mandela International Day will take place under the theme of "Take action; inspire change; make every day a Mandela Day" with a focus on food security, shelter and literacy.

All South Africans are urged to volunteer 67 minutes of their time on the day to help change their communities and South Africa for the better.

Mandela, who served as South Africa's first black president from 1994 to 1999, has been hospitalized since June 8 for a recurring lung infection, his longest hospital stay in years.

He remained in a critical but stable condition, according to the latest official update on his health on Thursday.