In honour of Mandela Day, which is celebrated globally on 18 July, the V&A Waterfront, in conjunction with the Robben Island Museum, has teamed up with the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and two local NGOs, Breadline Africa and the Lalela Project, to celebrate 67 minutes for Mandela. Launching on 01 July, a Mandela container library will be placed in the V&A Clocktower Square until 18 July, Mandela’s birthday.
The event will raise awareness around the Mandela Day container library initiative, which as a result of a partnership between Breadline Africa and the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, has to date successfully placed 27 libraries in some of the most impoverished schools in South Africa. The V&A Waterfront will showcase one of the library structures during Mandela month in an effort to gain greater support for the roll out of more libraries across the country.
“Every school should have access to a library and every child should be able to read, write and be given the means to learn; sadly this is not the case in many schools across the country. The Mandela Day library container initiative needs the support of the general public and corporates. We encourage everyone to get involved and help in some way,” Programme Manager for Breadline Africa, Puleng Phooko said.
“This is an opportunity for us to not only applaud but also support initiatives that honour Nelson Mandela’s humanitarian spirit,” David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront, said.
Various activities will take place in the container during its stay at the V&A Waterfront; this includes book and poetry readings and daily library tours. Members of the public will be encouraged to donate books and to leave their personal 67 minutes contribution on a Message of Hope wall attached to the container.
Youth from the Lalela Project, an organisation that provides educational arts to youth affected by extreme poverty will design and paint fun and playful images on the external walls of the library.
The container, which has been jointly funded by The Westin Cape Town and the Macquarie Group, will be delivered to Alpine Primary school in Mitchells Plain after its stay the V&A Waterfront. The rollout of the Mandela Day container libraries, which has reached more than 20 000 children in rural areas in all nine provinces, is entirely dependent on the support of corporate funding with each container costing between R160 000 to R200 000 to recycle and refurbish.
“Literacy and the right to education is a human right,” Phooko said of the initiative. “We are grateful to The Westin Cape Town and the Macquarie Group, for their funding of the Alpine Primary school container. We hope to see many more Mandela Day libraries being rolled out over the next few years.”
The Robben Island Museum has concurrently planned a number of activities to mark Mandela Day. Grade 12 learners from seven Cape Town schools that achieved top results where asked to submit an essay or collage on the following topic; “What freedom and Nelson Mandela means to the youth.” Ten of the best essays and collages were chosen from each school. These will be displayed at the Cape Town International Airport and on Robben Island Museum for the duration of three months. The selected learners will spend the night on Robben Island on 17 July where they will participate in robust discussions with ex-political prisoners and visit Robben Island Maximum Security Prison. On the 18th, Mandela’s birthday, the learners will take part in an island clean up to commemorate their 67 minutes of good for Madiba. As part of July festivities, the museum will expand its reference library to the Nelson Mandela gateway, where it will be temporarily housed for the duration of July. The library will host a children’s corner to keep the little ones busy and the collection will be open to the public.
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