CycAlive 2011 off to a great start
This morning some 150 learners, teachers and cycling enthusiasts convened at the Torah Academy campus in Norwood, Gauteng, for the 14th annual CycAlive challenge, a youth highlight in the Mandela Day activities calendar.
A three-school initiative designed to encourage ubuntu among South Africa’s youth, CycAlive follows the journey of a team of exuberant Grade 11 boys from diverse backgrounds as they cycle from Johannesburg to Durban, spreading goodwill and learning about themselves and others along the way.
The morning activities got underway with a melodious introduction by the Field Band Foundation from Springs and a warm welcome by Rabbi Dovid Hazdan, the dean of the Torah Academy.
After an opening prayer by Rabbi Mottie Hadar, the prinicpal of the Torah Academy Boys’ High, South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein then encouraged the young men to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity CycAlive presents.
“Enjoy the day, enjoy yourselves,” he urged.
Sello Hatang of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory then spoke about the CycAlive project as an official Mandela Day activity, which is celebrated annually in partnership with the Centre of Memory, similar to the Bikers for Mandela Day initiative.
“You young men will be displaying endurance and tolerance as you cycle more than 500 kilometres to Durban,” he said, explaining how such qualities replicate those of the Centre’s Founder, Mr Nelson Mandela.
CycAlive aims to build bridges, raise funds, encourage leadership and promote road safety. Over the last three years CycAlive has been part of the Mandela Day calendar.
Hatang urged members of the public and the media to follow the cyclists as they journey on www.mandeladay.com and to follow the CycAlive Twitter account for details.
Lelo Mzaca, a 702 sports presenter, then spoke to the young men who have committed to the challenge of CycAlive this year.
“Be safe guys,” he warned, as he looked at the young adults awaiting a long ride to the beach. “As a cyclist myself I have learnt a valuable rule. Always give way and then wave,” he laughed. “You are the future leaders of our country. I encourage you to do well and perhaps some of you will become cyclists in a South African team that takes part in the Tour de France.”
Rabbi Hazdan then introduced Marlene Bethlehem, a past deputy-chairperson of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities and past president of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies.
“Today we celebrate the transformation of South Africa as we rally around something positive,” she said. Bethlehem praised the CycAlive project, saying that there is “no greater mitzvah (act of human kindness) and spreading of ubuntu than this event of CycAlive, which represents generosity of spirit and kinship”.
Quoting Mr Mandela in his book Long Walk to Freedom, Bethlehem read: “After climbing a hill, there are many more hills to climb.” She reminded the cyclists that each hill on their way to Durban represents a milestone.
Rabbi Hazdan then acknowledged MTN as a major sponsor that had donated bikes, cellphones for connectivity and digital cameras for capturing memorable moments along the cyclists' journey. He thanked the other sponsors Colin Bliss, Bearings International and Hudaco for the cyclists’ backpacks, t-shirts and signage and acknowledged the buzzing arrival of members of the Johannesburg Steelwings Harley Davidson Club, who arrived to show their support.
Ian Freeman of RAM, a chief sponsor of the event, spoke to the young men about teamwork.
“Consider the chains of your bike; all the links that work together. You are a team that will work together to achieve your goal. None of you are winners alone; you will win together. Good luck!”
Rabbi Hazdan then announced how the CycAlive project is expanding its reach. In summary:
- CycAlive participants are being given a better chance at furthering their education after matric via a bursaries provision partnership with Boston City Campus.
- Book distribution efforts and integration with Nelson Mandela libraries will seek to grow this education initiative.
- Given Shirenda now works full-time with impoverished communities, assisting centres such as Nokuthula School and Thusong in Alexandra township and simultaneously drafting a database of all past CycAlive participants.
- This year the project includes representatives from a school in Israel, as well as a school in Durban.
“In short, CycAlive is becoming an organisation beyond this day,” said Rabbi Hazdan.
Dan Zimba, the principal of PACE college, thanked everyone in attendance for the support and assured all the parents in attendance that their boys would arrive home safely. “The young men always come home stronger. This area of learning – life orientation – teaches them to join hands and work as a team.”
After thanking all the sponsors for their generous donations, it was time for the parade to get into formation in Orchard Avenue in Norwood. After the official ribbon was cut, the Harley Davidsons roared, the band played, and the young men cycled down the road. CycAlive 2011 was off to a great start!
To view more photographs of the day, visit this link.