A banner of birthday messages for Madiba
Learners from Theo Wassenaar Primary School in Robertsham, south of Gauteng, visited the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory recently to hand over a special birthday gift for Nelson Mandela.
The gift – a six metre-wide banner that bears an illustration of Mr Mandela’s face and is filled with written messages from the learners wishing him well on his 94th birthday – is a giant birthday present for Madiba that will be housed at the Centre of Memory.
Centre of Memory CEO Achmat Dangor welcomed the learners and thanked them for their innovative gift.
“I encourage you all to participate in keeping Mr Mandela’s legacy alive by taking action on Mandela Day,” he said.
“Madiba’s pride and joy was seeing children such as yourselves succeed. As he said, education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world,” said Dangor.
The learners were accompanied by the Chairperson of the School Governing Body, Mohammed Ismail, Principal Deon Saayman and Heads of Department Anthony Louw and Firzaana Tagari.
“This is a first for our school and I was very excited to have the children do something to wish Madiba,” said Ismail.
“I felt that merely singing 'Happy Birthday Tata' would not achieve much, and that the children would not truly feel the Mandela spirit. Then I remembered that I saw a banner birthday wish a few years ago at a mall, so I figured why don't we do the same at our school. I spoke to the principal Deon Saayman, he liked the idea, and then I asked the Head of the Department Anthony Louw if we could get the project off the ground,” he explained.
“Before I could say 'Happy Birthday Tata', Anthony bought the calico, arranged the kids in the hall, had Madiba's face painted on the banner, and the rest was history.”
Not only did Ismail inspire the learners to share their well wishes for Madiba in the form of a birthday banner, but he also contributed a special gift to the archives at the Centre of Memory.
“I am a reporter and was lucky enough to take a few snaps of Mr Mandela in the mid-90s,” said Ismail. “I decided to donate the negatives of these photos to the archives at the Centre of Memory.”