The South African High Commission marked Nelson Mandela’s birthday on Friday last week, with a 6.7 kilometre fun-walk around Maseru, as well as donating clothing and food-hampers to the needy in Sekamaneng soon after the walk.
Mandela was born on July 18 ,1918 and since 2009 on this day, South Africans are urged to spend 67 minutes working for any good cause, with the duration symbolising the 67 years the late anti-apartheid icon spent fighting for social justice.
In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously endorsed the recognition of Mandela’s birthday as an international day.
“This was inspired by the former South African president’s call, made a year earlier, for the next generation to take over the baton of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices.
This year was the first Mandela Day commemoration since the globally revered freedom fighter died from a lung infection on 5 December 2013.
The South African High Commission Counsellor and Deputy High Commissioner, Mr Sello Jelle told the Sunday Express during Friday’s fun-walk that Mr Mandela was an internationally recognised fighter for justice, hence the celebration of his birthday across the globe.
“The late Mandela is an international icon and his birthday is also recognised worldwide, so we didn’t want to celebrate it alone as South Africans here in Lesotho,” Mr Jelle said.
In addition to the fun-walk, Mr Jelle said the embassy was also going to give out food hampers and clothing to the Centre for the Poor and Less Privileged Children operated by the Roman Catholic Church in Sekamaneng.
“To hold this big event, we are working with partners who assisted in making sure the goods we are donating, are available,” Mr Jelle said.
“This is a big event we are holding after the passing of Tata Mandela in December last year, because before, we used to celebrate in our own small ways.
“But with today’s event, we are trying to make a difference in people’s lives, especially the less-privileged here in Lesotho.
“This is our way of giving back to the needy and we felt we should do it on Mandela Day.”
Mr Jelle further said the embassy had already planned for next year’s Mandela Day, which he said would be a cross-border marathon from Maseru to Ladybrand in the Free State.