Graça Machel with Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.  File photo: Independent Media
Graça Machel with Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. File photo: Independent Media
Nelson Mandela’s widow Graça Machel is to lead a group of world leaders in a highly symbolic and historic march and gathering in central Cape Town tomorrow on Nelson Mandela International Day.

It is to celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Elders, and to launch the group’s new global project, “Walk Together”, a continuation of Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, says Machel.

At noon The Elders, alongside 1 000 local residents, will walk from the Grand Parade outside the Cape Town City Hall, where Mandela made his celebrated Freedom speech on his release on February 11, 1990, to the Cape Town International Convention Centre, where they’ll gather for a show until 7.15pm.

The event promises to feature some of the world’s most notable political and community leaders, discussing the world’s ongoing humanitarian issues, and celebrating The Elders’ work to date.

The Elders is the independent group of global leaders founded by Mandela, made up of former heads of state, peace activists, and human rights advocates including Kofi Annan, Ban Ki-moon, Desmond Tutu, Graça Machel, Jimmy Carter, Hina Jilani, Mary Robinson, and Ernesto Zedillo among others. See http://www.theelders.org/about

Over the past decade, the group has worked on some of the world’s most pressing issues, including the HIV epidemic, climate change, the ongoing refugee crisis, and major conflicts such as in Israel, Sudan and South Sudan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

During the event, further information will be provided on the campaign and on the global work being undertaken by the Elders over the coming years.

Those speaking at the event include Machel, Jilani, Robinson, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Ricardo Lagos and Richard Branson.

The event will also feature music from South African and international artists, and dialogue including Elders and activists from communities in South Africa, as well as community leaders from District Six.

The City will assist The Elders with their Walk Together Campaign in Cape Town tomorrow, said mayor Patricia de Lille.

It will inspire hope and engage people in ideas that “inspire solidarity, respecting differences”.

“This is an expression of the mandate Mandela asked The Elders to undertake as a collective of independent, respected leaders - to offer hope where there is despair,” she said.

“Each year, in celebrating the 67 years of service and sacrifice for our country by former president Nelson Mandela, our country comes together with residents, businesses and organisations getting to work to help those less fortunate,” said De Lille.

“On what has become known as Mandela Day, acts of charity work are undertaken for 67 minutes each year on July 18, the birthday of Tata Madiba.

“When it comes to the notion of 67 minutes, my challenge to everyone is that we must use Mandela’s birthday and his life’s work as a reminder of his persevering legacy to remember that our service and help to those in need does not need to be restricted to one day or 67 minutes.

“We can all do a little more and make a greater impact if we work together”.

The City will also participate in other Mandela Day initiatives.

Deputy mayor Ian Neilson and mayoral committee member for east areas Anda Ntsodo will construct the largest food can mosaic ever made in South Africa, said De Lille.

They will join Canal Walk in partnership with LEAP Science and Maths Schools to celebrate Mandela Day.

Staff of sponsoring organisations and the public will construct the mosaic which will be in the shape of the Nelson Mandela Day logo and will span 8m by 16m and use 6 700kg of food cans.

“Our late former president Mandela offered his life for the struggle for social justice and a free, democratic country.

“By continuing this work, we can ensure that his legacy remains alive for years to come and that we build the country he fought for and dreamt of,” De Lille said.

“May we be mindful of the great task that still lies ahead and remember Madiba’s profound words: ‘A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination’.”

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Cape Times