Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Mandela - Grahamstown reflections

On 18 July 2012, Nelson Mandela celebrated his 94th birthday. His legacy  lives on, even in the City of Saints and Sinners, that is, Grahamstown.

In May 1996, Mandela was the first Black State President to be given the Freedom of the Grahamstown. In his speech, Mandela said that he "feel humbled to be counted as one of this city's citizens". He concluded by saying that he is thankful of the honour that had been bestowed on him, and "will always carry myself in a manner befitting a resident of Rhini".

A popular street used by public transport, was also changed from M Street to Mandela Street.

The Nelson Mandela student hall at Rhodes University has also been named after the former statesman, with his imposing bust at the entrance. The University also boasts one of the famous scholarships, the Mandela-Rhodes Scholarship. 

The Cock House, famous for visits by notable figures in business, sports, academic and politics, once hosted Mandela three times! Its home page lists Mandela as the most famous guests of them all, with the owners posing with the world reputable statesman. His comment is still on the guest house's guest comments page where he said "Best wishes to an institution whose staff is highly professional".

Ever since the start of the Nelson Mandela International Day, observed on 18 July that coincide with Mandela's birthday,Makana Municipality communities, businesses, NGOs and government departments have been taking part along with the rest of the world, devoting 67 minutes to make a difference in the livelihood of others. Grocott's Mail, the oldest independent community newspaper in South Africa, has dedicated enormous time to cover these efforts by the likes of Albany Museum championed by its Mobile Museum Services under the guidance of Nozipho Madinda. The Museum has been identifying and supporting four disadvantaged farm schools, Manley Flats, Zintle, Martindale and  Wilson Party. Donations collected from individuals, schools, the university and businesses have been handed to learners and parents in these schools.    

Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former wife to Nelson Mandela, also graced Grahamstown in 2011, as leader of the Ministerial Sanitation Task Team that was investigating the bucket system throughout the country.  

As indicated earlier, Albany Museum also ensured it is not left behind. The Museum signed Memorandum of Agreements with the Nelson Mandela Museum in Umthatha, and the Robben Island Museum. That resulted in Makana Municipality learners being sent to the Nelson Mandela Youth Camp in Qunu, which is Mandela's birth place, to learn more about him and to follow is legacy. Nolubabalo Ralo from Extension 9 was also fortunate to benefit more as she was further chosen to go to the International Youth Camp in Germany. This was a result of other cultural agreements between Eastern Cape government in South Africa and that of Lower Saxony, Germany.    

In recent years, Albany Museum has hosted the Mandela-Luthuli: Making Peace Exhibition, and the Dear Mr Mandela, Dear Mrs Parks: Children's Letters, Global Lessons  Exhibition, and the 20 years remembrance since Mandela was released from prison. The Museum also developed specific education programmes based on these exhibitions where schools were taught about these leaders.  

By: Zongezile Matshoba

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