A Poem for Mandela Day

The Sharnbrook team from the UK was able to be a part of Mandela Day (Madiba’s birthday and a day of community service here).They partnered with a local school in Sweetwaters, and together with the gogos (grandmothers) and mamas of the children in the school, we repainted almost the entire school. In the media in SA and the US right now it seems everyone is cynical about race relations. Current events have shown both of our countries have a long way to go in terms of really reconciling, listening, learning and altering unjust systems. But I also think that because these problems are so huge and overwhelming, that doesn’t give us a right to sit around being cynical and assume it’s someone else’s job (like the government) to fix things. In little ways we each need to take responsibility and do something towards listening, reconciling and working for justice every day. Here is a poem I wrote about it (warning: it contains a word that some cultures find offensive). I have linked in articles on the current events mentioned within the poem. I’m not much of a poet, but maybe you’ll like it. 🙂


so they say there’s yelling about some kid named Trayvon

that the system beat up on

in the US of A

so they say there’s people throwing crap on

the airport in Cape Town

because of the DA

so they say the family can’t agree on

the land he should be buried on

in the R of SA

and all the blacks will just kill the whites anyway.


Mandela’s just a face on paper money,

we can use to buy bread, cigarettes and votes with

and the rainbow nation is just good political rhetoric.



So they say.


But we were there

there with all those mamas and gogos

getting our brown and cream hands sticky

with brown and cream paint

and making the chipped, cracked school walls new again.

I was there in my paint-splattered work jeans

they were there in their rainbow colored aprons

and we were there with paint freckling our faces.


And when you can sing Nkosisikeleli with someone

whose voice drowns out your own

and you both want God to bless Africa

and they can laugh at the way you dance

but you can dance together anyway

and then sit because all the laughing muscles inside are tired

and you can share food

and wash dishes

and scrub floors


then I say

maybe it doesn’t matter what they say.


Because we did have a great party that birthday.

Mandela Day

Nelson Mandela’s birthday was July 18th. South Africa’s former president is celebrated as a hero for his part in peacefully ending apartheid and ushering in the New South Africa, which strives to be marked by reconciliation, forgiveness, and respect for human rights. Every year on Mandela’s birthday, citizens in South Africa celebrate by trying to do something to make the world a better place.

The overarching objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good. Ultimately it seeks to empower communities everywhere. “Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day.”Individuals and organisations are free to participate in Mandela Day as they wish. We do however urge everyone to adhere to the ethical framework of “service to one’s fellow human”. (from Mandela Day website)”

This year, iThemba was blessed by the group BitCo, who decided to donate a telephone system to iThemba free of charge. iThemba’s new offices did not have telecommunications installed, and iThemba could not afford to install them or keep them running–but in honor of Mandela Day, BitCo volunteered to donate all that was needed.

Here is the story from the BitCo website. I love it because it is so encouraging to see how God uses everyone to accomplish his purposes. And, if you want to see the video about children going to the beach, click on the link bolded in this story.

“On the 27th of June 2012, an unassuming quote request for iThemba crossed BitCo’s path. Mvelo Ramba, Key accounts manager at BitCo, picked up the request and brought it straight to the directors’ attention. “We had a look at the website and watched a small video where children had been taken to the sea for the first time in their lives” says Michael Colin, Sales Director of BitCo, “Myself and my team were close to tears, four grown men sitting around a computer (another luxury that we take for granted) watching children relish the pleasure of an opportunity they couldn’t have had without iThemba”.

Upon requesting more information from iThemba, BitCo received a request for assistance letter which concluded with, “We have kindly been loaned office space to accommodate us better and one year of ADSL. One of our biggest needs is affordable telecommunications – which were previously loaned to us by another organisation. However, with our move, we will not have this benefit anymore. Unfortunately, we don’t have the budget to purchase the type of system we need or to cover the cost of calls.”

It was with this that Garth van Sittert, BitCo’s Managing Director, proposed a donation of the entire IP PBX solution and the ADSL connection with access to the BitCo network so that the donation can be enjoyed for many years to come. This solution includes 10 telephones, a network cabinet and network switch, 10 network points, ADSL modem, full user training and configuration as well as three telephone numbers. To ensure that iThemba is always has support a silver support contract has also been included.” (from BitCo website).