South Africa: Machel - Everyone Has the Power to Drive Transformation

As the globe commemorates International Mandela Day, the wife of the late former President Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel, has called on South Africans to take initiative to drive transformation.

Machel was speaking during a dialogue titled "Unpacking the Next Chapter of Mandela Day" at the Germiston Civic Centre on Thursday.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, in partnership with Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality and Gauteng Human Settlements Department, marked the 10th Mandela Day by handing over of sanitary towels to young girls around the city and handing over houses in Palm Ridge.

In her remarks, Machel said that Mandela Day is a reminder that everyone has the power to take initiative to drive transformation.

"When Madiba was alive, he taught us something important, especially at the time when he was the Head of State and when he stepped down.

"He went across the country trying to identify villages where there was no electricity, no clinics, and no water and made a commitment to make sure that he takes those services, in partnership with private sector, [to the] people," she said.

Machel said it was important that each person takes responsibility, individually, for how they will take initiative and move Mandela Day forward and not only rely on institutions.

"I want to encourage us not to look at Mandela Day as an event which we are going to be part of every year, but we should begin thinking of between 2019 and 2020 - what is it which I pledge personally to do and I will keep doing for the whole year which goes beyond my daily activities ... just to decide what is the difference I can make to other people so that it will become a way of being, a way of living and not an event," Machel said.

Decade of global solidarity

Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO, Sello Hatang, said that over the past decade, the Nelson Mandela Foundation has played a myriad of roles for Mandela Day, as a facilitator, event coordinator, communicator, brand ambassador, project manager and implementer.

"The year 2019 marks a decade of global solidarity and support for the initiative, presenting a good reason for both reflection and recommitment as we review the initiative and assess its impact. Over 140 countries are today honouring Madiba's legacy in one form or another.

"If we were to talk about the journey of the last 10 years, we can say it was a success. Today is not only our country responding, but a global community and we [are] hoping to instil those values of compassion and solidarity with those who feel left behind and forgotten," Hatang said.

Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina said the city has partnered with the Nelson Mandela Foundation to bring about a number of initiatives that are going to be used to remember the stalwart of the revolution.

"Together with the foundation, we will be going to the United Nations, where we will talk about who Mandela was, what he stood for and what the country is going to do to commemorate him," Masina said.

Celebrated annually on Mandela's birthday, 18 July, the 2019 leg of Mandela Day comes on what would have been the late statesman and global icon's 101 birthday.

The day embodies the words of Mandela when he said "It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all". South Africans and people the world over are encouraged to roll up their sleeves and lend a hand in their communities for 67 minutes.

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