Madiba’s Birthday

Nelson Mandela will be celebrating his 90th birthday on 18 July this year.

Last night saw the 46664 concert in London’s Hyde Park. In addition to being a massive birthday celebration in honour of Mandela, it is also a charity event to raise awareness of the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa and to raise funds for the fight against AIDS. (You can see some clips here).

The number 46664 was given to Nelson Mandela when he was imprisoned on Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town in 1964, the 466th prisoner to be banished to the island that year. For the 25 years of his incarceration until his release in 1990, he was referred to by that number. The Nelson Mandela Foundation uses the number in its website address.

The first of these 46664 concerts took place in November 2003 at Green Point Stadium, Cape Town. This was followed in March 2005 with another concert held at George, on the Garden Route of South Africa. In April 2005, a 3-day concert took place in Madrid, Spain, and in June that year another one in Tromso, Norway. The third South African 46664 concert took place on 1 December 2007 (international World AIDS Day), in Johannesburg, South Africa.

I recently saw on the SA Good News website that you can send a short message (up to 160 characters long) to Nelson Mandela here. I just had a look to see the list of top 10 countries from which people had sent messages, and found to my amazement that Tanzania is in first place with over 29,800 messages! Next is Germany with just over 10,000 messages, followed by the UK, Gabon, Malawi, Spain, South Africa (only 2123), The Netherlands, Congo and the United States (with 1306).

I can’t believe we are only in 7th place!!

Come on, South Africans, send Happy Birthday greetings to Madiba!

4 thoughts on “Madiba’s Birthday

  1. Ah, there’s not much to say, really. It was a great experience – especially as a South African in London, it was particularly cool to be part of such a South African-yet-international event. As a concert it was pretty mixed (Amy Winehouse? Weird choice) but as an event it was strangely powerful.

    This is the second time I’ve seen Mandela in the flesh – the last time I just happened to be nearby as he moved from car to stadium at the 1995 Rugby World Cup – and both times it was electrifying. The effect he has on people around him is amazing. This time, it was also heartbreaking, as he is clearly now an old man, and one is very painfully aware that he’s not going to be around that much longer.

    It was also really weird to see Emmanuel Jal perform. He’s a singer who was one of the child soldiers in the Sudan. Try to comprehend that… to go from that kind of horror, to singing in Hyde Park. Can you imagine? That was also powerfully humbling. (I am not a fan of the word “humbling”, but it was.)

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I have never seen Mandela ‘in real life’, so you are two up on me.

    Incidentally, he and I have the same birthday: 18 July. I’m just a tad younger than he is. 😉

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