If we must mourn a young hero, let's celebrate an old one as well.
PRETORIA, South Africa — Zodwa Kgamphe baked a cake for needy children so that they, too, could celebrate the 95th birthday of the man they call the father of their nation: Nelson Mandela. But like most South Africans, Kgamphe was also giving thanks for a life shaped by the anti-apartheid icon.
“If it wasn’t for him, I would not be owning my own bakery,” said Kgamphe, 58, as her older sister nodded in agreement. “He taught us to work hard for ourselves. He gave us strength. He stayed 27 years in prison. If he could do that, I felt I could open my own business.”
On Thursday, South Africans of all races celebrated Mandela’s 95th birthday, amid reports that his health was “steadily improving” as he lay in a hospital bed battling a lung infection. At the urging of South African leaders and the United Nations, which recognizes his birthday as Nelson Mandela International Day, many South Africans paid tribute to him by volunteering for 67 minutes to mark Mandela’s 67 years of public service
They donated food to charities, worked in orphanages, picked up trash, made sandwiches for the poor and baked cakes. President Jacob Zuma oversaw donations of houses that were given to impoverished white farmers in Pretoria. A group of young artists created an exhibition of 95 posters compiled from submissions from around the world to commemorate Mandela.
And retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate like Mandela, as well as a famed leader of the anti-apartheid struggle, painted the walls of a school in a shantytown in Cape Town.
Outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, where Mandela was taken in early June, throngs gathered outside the green gates, singing, dancing or blowing vuvuzelas, the long plastic horns that were ubiquitous during the soccer World Cup held in South Africa in 2010.
Mercy Mokgoane, 39, noted that under the nation’s apartheid-era segregation laws, she wouldn’t have been allowed to stand in front of the hospital. “Only our mothers were allowed into this area, because they were the maids of the white people. The way we live now is because of Madiba,” she said, referring to Mandela by his Xhosa clan name. (Source)