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Learners across the country will sing happy birthday to Nelson Mandela at exactly 8.05am on 18 July. South Africans at home and around the world are urged to join in.
THE start of the third term won’t be a normal humdrum Monday at government schools across the nation, for on Monday, 18 July, about 12 million learners will sing happy birthday to Nelson Mandela simultaneously, at exactly 8.05am.


Yusuf AbramjeeYusuf Abramjee wants to make a difference for MandelaThe day is recognised by the United Nations as Nelson Mandela International Day.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has issued a clarion call to every person to join the learners in singing for Mandela, who turns 93. Public schools will hoist the national flag and then sing the national anthem before bursting into a harmonious happy birthday to South Africa’s greatest living icon.

Called Let’s All Sing for Madiba, the campaign is supported by the foundation, Independent Newspaper Group, Primedia, Brand South Africa, SuperSport, SABC and the Department of Basic Education. It was launched at the foundation offices in Houghton on Tuesday, 12 July.

Yusuf Abramjee, the chairman of the National Press Club and a Primedia executive, said all partners were doing this “from the bottom of our hearts and not as a cheap publicity stunt. We want to make a difference for Madiba.

“My challenge is for all South Africans to support the initiative,” he said.


Angie MotshekgaMinister of basic education Angie MotshekgaAn official happy birthday track, sung and recorded by the Buhlebemfundo Secondary School choir, which participated in the Eistefodd National Choral Competition last month, will underline the campaign. It will be played on Morning Live on SABC2, on all 18 SABC radio stations, on Primedia radio stations and on SuperSport simultaneously on Monday, at 8.05am.

The song, Happy Birthday Tata Madiba, is a melange of popular struggle songs and African hymns, harmonised by a choral undertone. It was composed by Buhlebemfundo Secondary, which is in Tsakane on the East Rand.

As of today, Abramjee said all Primedia stations would playlist the song on almost every show for the rest of the week.

It will also be circulated on the LeadSA website and the lyrics will be published on the internet and in various print and online publications. The track will be accompanied by a birthday message from President Jacob Zuma, which will be flighted on Morning Live, and all Primedia and SABC radio stations before the official track is played.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation is urging South Africans to sing for Madiba on Mandela Day. Watch video.
“What a better way to explain and celebrate better the meaning of Madiba,” said Angie Motshekga, the minister of basic education.

The simultaneous singing would in no way disrupt learning activities at schools, she pointed out. All learners were expected back in class by 8.15am.


Achmat DangorAchmat Dangor: make every day a Mandela DayAbramjee said everyone should sing a happy birthday first before embarking on any 67-minute social activity, to commemorate Nelson Mandela Day.
He said the partners were considering entering the initiative as a Guinness World Record for the most people to sing happy birthday simultaneously, but this would not be the focal point of the campaign.

It was devised as a humanitarian gesture to Mandela.

Brand South Africa has urged South Africans living overseas to sing as well.

In addition, the foundation said Nelson Mandela Day was a call to action for people everywhere to take responsibility for making the world in a better place, one small step at a time, “just as Mandela did”.

The campaign message was simple: “Mandela gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity. All we are asking is that everyone gives 67 minutes of their time, whether it’s supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community.”

Achmat Dangor, the chief executive of the foundation, urged everyone to “take charge and make every day a Mandela Day”.

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