Words: Malcolm Rees
The day following Nelson Mandela’s death hundred’s of children gathered at the footstep of Johannesburg’s Ponte towers to celebrate life and smile at the memory of Madiba. They were there to enjoy the Christmas festivities organised by the Dlala Nje Community Centre which had collected hundreds of presents from throughout Johannesburg for Hillbrow’s children.
Video: Matte Box Media and Jordi Giralt.
As our nation mourned our children sang and they danced and they played. In the shadow of Johanneburg’s iconic mother building, which has stood as both a symbol of white decadence and of the post-Apartheid crime and disease which we have come to fear, Madiba’s inimitable spirit was palpable.
“People should not be mourning his death, they should be living his legacy and that is what we are hoping to do here today.
“Madiba was all about the children, today is about the youth, its about the future. His heart would be smiling,” says Dlala Nje co-founder Mike Luptak.
“This is exactly what he wanted he always talked about kids and how important they are to the future and this would make him happy,” echoed Tom Revington, lead guitarist South African from indie pop band, Shortstraw. “We could not be doing this without him, just to have this kind of day is special. I don’t think we could have a day like this without him. ”
Fazel Randera, Madiba’s former doctor, played the role of Santa Claus.
“There is a spirit of likeness amongst all these children, they all look very happy, they interact very easily with each other, to me that is part of the spirit of what Madiba started when he came out of prison and his whole journey of reconciliation and non-racialism.
Video courtesy of JHB Live and Dirk Chalmers
“If we look at this, most of the people who are doing the organising, who are doing the hard work are from the white South African community and from the Indian South African community, the kids come from the black South African community and yet they seem to be very much at home. There is no feeling of antagonism, of anger – they all enjoying themselves together and that opitomises what Madiba was all about.
“What we need to do is share with these kids and with each other the history that we have come from so that we don’t forget that. It is very easy to think 20 years on that it was great having these people in our midst. But his legacy and the values that he epitomised must live on amongst all of us, white black, indian coloured … we must make sure that his memory is not lost.”
Mandela’s spirit lives in the freedom of his people, his legacy is remembered in the values he has instilled in South Africa’s next generation.
Pictures below courtesy of Liezl Van Rensburg
The Dlala Nje team would like to extend their deepest thanks to all those involved in making this a great success. It doesn’t take much to put a smile on a needy kid’s face.