South Africa: The Elders, Capetonians #WalkTogether on Mandela Day

18 July 2017

Cape Town — Hundreds of people gathered at the Grand Parade in Cape Town to mark Mandela Day. Led by The Elders, a forum of former leaders founded by Nelson Mandela a decade ago, the #WalkTogether march brought together community leaders and human rights activists who urged awareness of gender violence and gangsterism on the city's Cape Flats.

Human rights activist Kumi Naidoo welcomed those gathered before he introduced SABC presenter Andile Gaelesiwe, who took the opportunity to address the young women in attendance.

"When women and children are not free, a country is at war with itself," Gaelesiwe said, urging the men listening to be their "brother's keeper" and educate their peers about gender violence.

Youth community leader Ashwin Jansen elaborated on Gaelesiwe's address, adding that the youth of today need to emulate their forebears who launched the 1976 Soweto Uprising.

"We need to become radical youth and fight against gangsterism and femicide," he said. "The youth will determine gender equality."

Joanie Fredericks of the Mitchell's Plain Crisis Forum also took to the podium, where she called on individuals to ask themselves what they are doing to stem the tide of violence against women and children. "Enough is enough," she said as she recalled the death of Stacha Arendse, the 11-year-old victim in a high-profile rape and murder case.

Graça Machel's arrival was greeted with cheers from the crowd as Kumi Naidoo introduced members of The Elders who took part: Gro Harlem Brundtland and Mary Robinson, the first female leaders of Norway and Ireland respectively, Hina Jilani, a leading activist in Pakistan's women's movement, Ricardo Lagos, the former president of Chile, and Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Finland.

Graça Machel thanked the crowd, saying The Elders would carry on Madiba's values of peace, justice, equality and health.

"I'm sure where he is, he is full of joy," she added. Machel bid the crowd to sing happy birthday for the former statesman, who would have turned 99 on Tuesday.

Virgin CEO Richard Branson, who accompanied The Elders and whose company will play a key role in the 12-month #WalkTogether campaign, moved to the head of the crowd along with members of the Mitchell's Plain Crisis Forum, who held banners commemorating Stacha Arendse.

The walk began on Darling Street before moving to Adderley Street, Cape Town's historic main thoroughfare. Hundreds of participants sang and chanted as they made their way to the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

See their progress in this allAfrica Photo Essay >>

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