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20 Years of Freedom and Democracy
Government commemorates centenary celebrations of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu
Government calls on all South Africans, international communities and civil society to play their part in recognizing and emulating the values of the first democratic President, Nelson Mandela, as the country celebrates his Centenary. President Cyril Ramaphosa declared 2018 the year of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in his State of the Nation Address.

This year, the country also celebrates the centenary of one of the great daughters of the African soil Mama Albertina Sisulu, who dedicated her life to fight for the emancipation of women and the liberation of South Africa. Today, 8 March 2018, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we remember the sacrifices women such as Albertina Sisulu made to build a democratic society which respects and celebrates the crucial role women plan in all walks of life.  

“The strong foundations laid by both Madiba and Ma Sisulu empowers this generation to press on to make society a better place to live in,” said Minister of Communications, Nomvula Mokonyane. South Africans and the international community will celebrate the Mandela centenary under the theme ‘Be the Legacy’. Minister Mokonyane said: “The theme of this centenary means that each person should emulate the true values that Madiba upheld.

He was a great leader who showed the world what is selflessness,   he strived to attain peace, showed us what is forgiveness, and ensured justice and equality for all. As the celebrations get underway, ever person should take what they have learnt from Madiba and his approach and apply it to everyday life. He not only believed in his values but also conveyed them in his daily life, and we need to re-live his values to keep his dream alive of a better South Africa and to make the world a better place.”  

The celebration kicked off at the African Union Summit in Ethiopia in January 2018, and a year-long series of awareness, educational, celebratory and commemorative activities will take place across the country, building up to a fully-fledged national centenary celebration day on his birth date, 18 July 2018. The main event will take place at Mvezo, Eastern Cape and will be lead by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

A key contributor to the centenary euphoria is the call the action on Mandela Fridays. The domestic and international community are encouraged to perform acts of selflessness, giving back to those less fortunate and making the lives of others a better one. Echoing Nelson Mandela, Minister Mokonyane added that ‘our human compassion binds us,  the one to the other, not in pity or patronizingly but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.’ “We call on all South Africans, schools, faith based organisations and other sectors of society to join in the centenary celebrations¬¬. Let us all, even in our busy lifestyles set aside some time to play our part and make a difference in the life of others,” said Minister Mokonyane. Members of the public are urged to post pictures, videos and selfies of what they will be doing to celebrate “BE THE LEGACY” on social media using #Mandela100 and #BeTheLegacy or alternatively send to

Among those who fought relentlessly and played a significant role to attain the freedom we enjoy today, was Nelson Mandela. He was driven by his belief in human rights and played a pivotal role in ensuring that the realisation of peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy and led to the development of one of the most liberal and progressive Constitutions. However, this would have not been possible without the support received from the international community. “We know that all over the world the anti-apartheid movement played a key role in mobilising and galvanizing their societies into action against the erstwhile apartheid regime.  It is our hope and indeed our appeal that these movements, many of which still continue in various forms today as the friends of South Africa, will, in the spirit of Nelson Mandela rise in support of our fledgling democracy as we continue to grapple with the challenges of our past”’, Minister Mokonyane.

Likewise, Albertina Sisulu displayed great courage and is hailed for being a unifying leader during the apartheid era. In 1956, she was instrumental in leading around 20 000 women from across South Africa to march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria against carrying of passes by women.  “Their act of defiance will forever be ingrained in the hearts and history of South Africa; it will forever be an example that can be passed on from one generation to the next. This same spirit of togetherness and unity – is one that women should embrace so that the fight for equality and empowerment continues,” added Mokonyane.

Women no longer subscribe to patriarchal views. Over the years great strides have been made to ensure that women enjoy the same rights as their male counterparts in relation to education, employment, property, inheritance and justice. However, amidst the great achievements women still face some challenges such as remaining vulnerable to social risks such as violence, abuse, rape, unemployment and poverty. “Government is aware of the challenges and will continue in its endeavour to protect the democracy and women’s rights that were built on the actions of the women of the liberation movement As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us not be complacent but as the theme suggests, let us press for progress in gender parity and emulate the strong commitment displayed by Sisulu to fight the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality. We need to break down barriers impeding women’s economic advancement,” added Minister Mokonyane.

Minister Mokonyane said: “More details on the planned centenary events in honour of former President Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu will be made available on Let us unite in celebrating the father and mother of our nation and help those in need, display love to each other regardless of race, age and ethnicity. By working together we move South Africa forward.”
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