July is always a special month in our history. July is Cuba month and it is meant to be a time to focus on the progress of the little island, south of the US, where, despite the best and worst attempts at destabilisation by its much bigger and stronger neighbour, some form of socialism has been practised since the early 1960s.
Locally, July is also important. Ashley Kriel, a young freedom fighter from Bonteheuwel, was killed on July 9, 1987, and his comrades, Coline Williams and Robert Waterwich, were killed two years later, on July 23, 1989, in what appeared to have been an explosion gone wrong.
July is the month when some of the leadership of the ANC and its military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, were arrested at Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, outside Johannesburg. The events of July 11, 1963, led to the Rivonia Trial where Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Denis Goldberg, Andrew Mlangeni, Raymond Mhlaba and Elias Motsoaledi were sentenced to life in prison on four counts, including sabotage and furthering the objectives of communism. Ahmed Kathrada was found guilty of conspiracy and also sentenced to life.
Nowadays July is special for most people throughout the world because of the birthday of Nelson Mandela on July 18. Mandela, who died on December 5, 2013, would have been 101 this year.
Mandela Day, as his birthday has become known, is celebrated in many countries and it gives an opportunity for many to do good, often for 67 minutes, in remembrance of the number of years of his life Mandela dedicated to public service.