On Friday 11th July this year we at Afrovibe Adventure Lodge partnered with the Pili Pili Bar's annual 'Christmas in July Party', yes, you heard it correct…..in JULY. It's when we put the Xmas decorations back up and confuse the hell out of everybody who walks into the bar, but why? and for what cause? It's when we ask YOU the public to kindly donate a toy and wrap it up using your best wrapping skills, we are not talking Snoop Dogg wrapping, more the paper variety.
Since one of South Africa's most favourite public holiday is just around the corner, we decided to wait for July 18th to do our good deed for the community, so what is so special about this set of 24 hours? It was July 18th in 1918 that Nelson Mandela was born, and since his 91st birthday in 2009 this has been one of the country's favourite days to celebrate and to reach out to our communities and make a difference.
The purpose of the day is to spend 67 minutes doing a good deed for its locals, you will see some world wide celebrities, politicians and religious figures getting in on the act, the Dalai Lama, Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Morgan Freeman, Will Smith, Forest Whittaker, the International Space Station and even local boy Bryan Habana of the Springboks Rugby team opening up a one day Soup Kitchen for the homeless population of Cape Town. South African radio stations such as KFM and Algoa FM can be found making their way to townships in Port Elizabeth and the Mother city and hosting soccer tournaments and giving out prizes. As well as seeing the faces of movies and magazines take part, the heart and soul of the message comes from the 68 million population of South Africa itself, in schools, libraries, museums, coffee shops, bars and restaurants, the 67 minutes represents the 67 years that Nelson Mandela the Comrade and Freedom Fighter dedicated his life to fighting equal rights and social justice in South Africa.
So what did we do here at Afrovibe?
We took our Afrovibe Bus and made our way towards the local township of Smutsville, and we acted as 'Santa' as we drove up to the Pre-school and surprised some local 2-3 year olds with a sack full of gifts. Afrovibe's very own 'Jack Black' (AKA Trystan) had the idea of bringing along the guitar and singing some traditional South African folk songs, a day like this would not be complete without the beautiful anthem of South Africa (Nkosi sikeleli i'Afrika) with a bit of 'Shosholoza' and 'Asimbonanga' thrown in the mix. Our guests present were from a big mixture of countries, Australia, France, Germany, Brazil, Italy and England, and all were really caught in the moment spending time with the local kids to see their bright and pure happy faces. After hand clapping and singing along to the music, playing some in-house soccer and making sure each child in the pre-school had their hands full, we bid them a farewell and let them get on with a day full of learning.
Then what could we take away from this brief encounter?
67 minutes for one day each year will make a small difference for a short while, even if we all take the time out on the 18th of July to help others. And how great did we all feel when we performed that act of kindness? Amazing of course, a warm feeling of personal satisfaction helping to make a difference to somebody else, then why not repeat this warmth on a regular basis, why not every week? why not every day? July 18th should remind us that one person can truly make a difference in the world, that if you have that goal and no matter how far away it may appear, one can always achieve it, through patience, persistence, humility and heart.
As the great man once said: "It always seems impossible until its done".
So for those who have enjoyed their time in South Africa either as a traveller or a volunteer, either during a normal day in the life, or while here during 'Democracy Day', 'Youth Day', 'Reconciliation Day' or 'Mandela Day' then we reach out to you and propose an idea, a simple ideal for you to think about during the remainder or your stay here or on your safe journey back to your homeland, wherever that may be…..lets make every day, a Mandela Day.