Former president Nelson Mandela. Picture: SOWETAN
Former president Nelson Mandela. Picture: SOWETAN

"TAKE action, inspire change" is the theme for this year’s United Nations (UN) International Nelson Mandela Day, taking place on Thursday.

South Africans from all walks of life have taken up the UN theme and will be involved in numerous development projects organised by the corporate world, the government, nongovernmental organisations and schools. The concept of Mandela Day started in 2009 after the UN declared the elder statesman’s birthday International Mandela Day.

"It is this spirit of giving and sharing that will change our world. It is this changed world that will make Madiba smile, always," the icon’s grandson Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela said.

President Jacob Zuma will mark the day by handing over low-cost houses to the low-income community of Danville in Pretoria West, part of an active programme to promote non-racial settlements.

Mr Mandela’s daughter Zindzi will receive a new smart identity card on his behalf, as part of the launch of the cards by the Department of Home Affairs.

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory will spend the day in the Alexandra township.

"In line with the theme of food security, in Alexandra, we will be handing out food parcels and announce a three-year partnership with Vodacom and Tiger Brands to assist 22,000 families with food security," the charity’s CEO Sello Hatang said. He said Vodacom would also hand over houses in Alexandra.

BMW, a long-time partner of the Nelson Mandela 46664 initiative, will donate container libraries to disadvantaged schools along with 2,000 books.

"We’ve had a long relationship with Madiba. In 2004 we donated a car to him for his 46664 Initiative, and they have used that car for five years. We replaced that car with a new one and got the old one back.

"We restored the car to immaculate condition and gave it to 46664 bangle initiative to auction it off. We got to choose the two schools that would benefit," BMW communications and public affairs GM Guy Kilfoil said.

BMW ambassadors from the national rugby team, Pierre Spies, Victor Matfield and Chiliboy Ralepelle were at two primary schools in Ga-Rankuwa for the hand over of the libraries on Wednesday.

Nashua Children’s Charity Foundation director Helen Fraser on Wednesday said that the foundation would hold a 67-minute party in Johannesburg for 10 organisations it assisted, including Cradle of Hope, Tshwane Place of Safety, Mangolongolo Squatter Camp and Nkanyezi Stimulation Centre for children with disabilities.

The African National Congress in Gauteng said on Wednesday that dignitaries would celebrate Madiba’s birthday with the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation at Pretoria Heart Hospital on Thursday.