From comrade to leader, prisoner to negotiator, head statesmen to global peace champion, this July 18th sees us celebrate what would have been Mandela’s 100th birthday, an extraordinary milestone for South Africa and the world. Mandela Day is a global call to action, with the realisation that every individual has the power to make a positive difference. The Centenary celebrations aim to commemorate Madiba’s universal message of forgiveness and the ethos of Ubuntu, which he helped cultivate.

The term Ubuntu is taken from a Zulu word, loosely defined as ‘humanity’. It has affectionately become a South African term for ‘giving’ and has often been translated to mean, “I am because we are”. Ubuntu is a cultural state of being, a unifying force, irrespective of race, creed or orientation, transcending this sentiment into many other countries in the world.

Locally, Madiba Fridays, a Cape Town initiative is one such example of giving back. On the last Friday of every month, all schools, faiths and sectors are encouraged to join hands and actively participate in being of service to those in need.

It is our wish at SAA that the spirit of Ubuntu speaks loudly this July, from our organization into every airport, home, business and public sector, as we endeavor to connect Africa to the world, and the world to Africa.

Spear-heading the Centenary celebrations is The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which has invited every South African to play their part, encouraging every individual to “Be the Legacy” this year. The Foundation will be participating in at least 50 projects to celebrate Mandela’s Centenary, no small feat, but in the words of the great Madiba:

“It always seems impossible, until it’s done.”

Mr. Sello Hatang, CEO of The Nelson Mandela Foundation was quoted as saying:

“It is important that we use the capabilities we have, wherever we are stationed in life, in a way that dismantles the unequal structures of power and protects the most vulnerable. All of us must commit to continuing Madiba’s work; fight poverty and inequality; strive to eradicate the growing scourge of racism; and reckon with the history of oppression”.

Both The Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Obama Foundation have announced that former President Barack Obama will be delivering the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture under the theme “Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World” in Johannesburg at the Ellis Park Arena on the 17th of July 2018.

Amongst many dedicated commemorative events and projects around the country, South Africans can look forward to exciting collaborations with the Miagi Youth Orchestra, helping to develop South African musicians from disadvantaged backgrounds. The South African Reserve Bank will launch a set of commemorative South African banknotes in honour of Nelson Mandela’s Centenary. These notes will cover all denominations – R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200. The South African Mint, a subsidiary of the SARB, will also be issuing a new R5 circulation coin to celebrate Mandela’s birth Centenary, an absolute must for any avid coin collectors out there.

For any gardening enthusiasts, you can look forward to a beautiful and exciting new addition to your garden or home space this year, as world-renowned South African horticulturist Keith Kirsten, has bred a “Mandela” rose that will be sold worldwide. This striking, fiery orange coloured rose, was chosen for its hardy strength, vibrancy and tall height. The rose is indicative of Madiba’s dream and legacy, to plant love, to nurture hope and grow peace throughout humanity. All proceeds will go to benefit the Foundation. South Africa’s largest rose grower, Ludwig’s Roses, have grown the first roses, and in the months ahead, more growers will be involved with the aim of introducing the rose worldwide.

The Foundation will further collaborate with Habitat for Humanity South Africa, honouring Mandela’s legacy by building 100 homes for 100 families in three regions; Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal. It is their belief that building the South Africa Nelson Mandela dreamed of, becomes possible when South Africans come together to build strength and stability through the necessity of shelter.

Some exciting media projects include four TV miniseries’ focusing on different periods of Mandela’s life, along with the continued digitisation of the Foundation’s archives of Mandela-related documents and artefacts.

Madiba’s passion for supporting children can be seen in the Youth Friday Pop Up Café. Every Friday the youth in the Kids Haven Skills Development Group prepare to host the POP UP Cafe in their own special tea room at 34 Cranbourne Avenue, Benoni. They bake tasty scones, banana bread, cupcakes, vegan cakes and vegan soup for sale to customers along with a cup of tea or coffee. The youth share the profits of the Cafe and begin earning money from their own efforts.

You can contact to find our more or to order your delicious baked goods.

A special Cyclathon will be taking place in Bryanston, Johannesburg from 5am on the 18th July. Book a Watt bike and ride as far as you can go in 67 minutes. Contact Susan on or 011 706 7959 to get involved.

Midrand’s Ward 112, councillor Madeleine Hicklin, is taking up the ‘Live the Legacy’ call by embarking on an exciting project to build 100 pallet beds for impoverished South Africans, an inspiring venture from this community.

Mandela Day is a great opportunity to be a tourist in your own country. Perhaps take the time to visit the fascinating different Nelson Mandela heritage sites from your ‘to do’ list. Some great sites around Johannesburg and Pretoria include; The Apartheid Museum, the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, The Union Buildings, Chancellor House or the ever-bustling Nelson Mandela Square.
As the build up to July the 18th increases, the excitement of Madiba fever is bound to get you. This Mandela Day, whether you wear a festive Centenary shirt or devote 67 minutes of your time – one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service – make that your gesture of goodwill. Feel inspired!

SAA joins the charge to ‘Live the Legacy’ this Mandela Day with our on-board flight headrest campaign. Our beautifully printed commemorative headrests embellished with Madiba quotations are not only collectables for each passenger, but our call to action for each individual traveling on SAA. Our wish is that each person who leaves the aircraft adopts the message of the headrest, and lives this message wherever they may go from there.

So from our shores to the near and far corners of the globe, we encourage all our valued customers, to be the change they want to see in the world and thank you for being a part of the ever-evolving tradition of Ubuntu.

SAA, proud to be part of Mandela Day.

Contact for ideas on flights, fares and travel packages to make your travel needs that much easier.