||17 July 2011 07:00
|Show: ||Carte Blanche|
Madiba's admittance into the Milpark hospital in January caused an international media frenzy, with stories of his imminent death hitting headlines.
Derek Watts (Carte Blanche presenter): "But rumours of his death were greatly exaggerated and Madiba is still with us. Tomorrow is his birthday and Madiba and the rest of the world will be celebrating 93 years of an extraordinary life."
And few were more relieved than Zelda Le Grange, Mandela's long-time personal assistant and friend.
Zelda Le Grange (Bikers for Nelson Mandela Day): "We are so incredibly privileged that he is still with us; I mean, he is strong, he is well. I want this birthday for him to be very special, I want him to see how people celebrate his life."
Boy 1: "He is a father to me, a father figure. He is a hero to South Africa - as I am standing here today, he is the one who made this day possible."
Boy 2: "He is an international icon for peace and Madiba also taught us that each and every one of us on planet Earth has the ability and the power to change the world."
Boy 3: "Mandela represents freedom of Africa; he represents Africa as a whole because the whole world looks up to him."
Girl 1: "Tata, thank you for being such a positive influence and I wish you other blessings: your grandchildren, your children."
Mandela's underground political activities meant birthdays were hardly a priority. At age 45 he was sent to Robben Island. Incarcerated on the island at the same time as Mandela was Judge Fikele Bam; they discovered they shared a birthday.
Derek: "Now, he always remembered a gift for your birthday?"
Hon. Fikele Bam (Judge-President: Land Claims Court): "Yes, he did. We were allowed to buy a few goodies once a year come Christmas time. And we would be allowed to buy chocolates, biscuits, sweets. But the amazing thing is that we would buy these things in December, but, come July, and he would have kept something all the months until our birthday so he could come over and present me with a packet of biscuits - Eat-Sum-More biscuits it used to be. And I never had anything to give back because I had squandered all my own biscuits and sweets."
Derek: "27 Years in jail, that's a lot of birthdays with very little to celebrate. But even while Madiba was behind bars there were some amazing celebrations held off South African soil, like his 70th at Wembley."
The Nelson Mandela Birthday Tribute in 1988 was broadcast to 67 countries and had an audience of 600 million.
 Whoopi Goldberg: 'No matter what the South African Consulate says, no matter what Mrs Thatcher says, the fact of the matter is that apartheid is wrong!"
It became known as the "Free Nelson Mandela Concert".
Nelson Mandela: "You know, if I was not kept in jail for 27 years I don't know whether I would be so kind to children. But for 27 years without ever seeing children, that was a terrible experience."
Mandela connected with babies, and young boys and girls, and so how fitting on his 77th birthday Carte Blanche threw him a party with kids from all walks of life.
[Carte Blanche July 1995] Derek: "Well, the big day has arrived - the birthday party for the kids at the President's Johannesburg residence."
Derek: "Madiba's always known how to have a good time and in July 1996, on his first State visit to the UK, Madiba rode through London in an open carriage with the warm wind in his hair, showing the world there is life after 70."
And then he topped that on his 80th birthday by marrying, for his third time, to Graca Machel.
Derek: "This is a treasured gift from Barak Obama - a picture taken on a cellphone [picture of Obama meeting Mandela] in 2005 - and over the years Madiba's been given literally thousands of presents... from very colourful takkies to a boxing glove from Lennox Lewis. But a few years ago he made it clear: enough is enough; I don't need any more gifts."
Sello Hatang (Head of Communications: Nelson Mandela Foundation): "He'd get tonnes of gifts when it's close to his birthday or Christmas. And the thinking here was: here is someone that everybody thinks is great, but actually his greatness lies in how he sacrificed himself - his own needs - for the benefit of others."
Sello Hatang is Head of Communications at the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Bongani Bingwa (Carte Blanche presenter): "So, even now, his thinking is: don't give me prezzies, go and make a difference in someone else's life?"
Sello: "Go and make a difference in someone else's lives. And its not only about money, the concentration is on time."
Derek: "In November 2009 the United Nations declared the 18th of July Nelson Mandela International Day - a call to action to people everywhere to take responsibility for making the world a better place, one small step at a time."
Derek: "It's called an International Day - just how international is it?"
Dr Agostinho Zacarias (United Nations): "It's global. Mandela is celebrated in all the countries in the world."
And Mandela is the only man the United Nations have ever honoured with a day. Dr Agostinho Zacarias is the UN's representative here.
Dr Zacarias: "For the first time we came with a notion of a day, an international Mandela Day, which we are trying to recognise his contribution and put his contribution to the global humanity."
Zelda: "Madiba spent 67 years of his life fighting social injustice and that's why we are asking people to dedicate 67 minutes of their time in doing good within their own community. We are trying to encourage people to use whatever they are interested in and to see how they can use that in making a difference in Mandela Day."
And Zelda's interest- motorbikes
Bongani: "So who would have thought Zelda the biker chick?"
Zelda: "Well, I'm not really a 'biker chick' - I am very scared, I've got my back up here as you can see."
Last year Zelda started the Bikers for Nelson Mandela Day, a charity event where a group of bikers - from celebrities to business people - cross through rural South Africa, over a week, doing community service on the way
Zelda: "We do about 300 kilometres a day and then stop for 67 minutes every day at a project and we paint a wall or we fix a bathroom... whatever we can do, whatever we can manage. We have a support group of about 10 people, so in effect it's 30... 35 people really working and offering labour in a project. And you have no idea what an impact 30 people can make in 67 minutes."
Bongani: "How has he touched you as an individual?"
Zelda: "By exactly this: I mean, it's a crazy idea to go and ride 2 000 kilometres and stop at projects in rural areas, and he's touched my life. I mean, the way I think, the way I do things; it's different from the person I used to be. I play these lessons he taught me over and over in my mind about - don't question a person's integrity before he gave you reason to do so; make sure you always speak the truth... simple things; values and morals for everyday life."
Leading up to Mandela's birthday, the concept of Mandela Monday has taken off. Something employees at Discovery Health have taken to heart, recently spending their own time brightening and upgrading the children's wards at Baragwanath Hospital.
Connel Samuel: "Bara Hospital has presented the greater need to get one of their paediatric wards re-furbished, so we decided to lend a helping hand."
Mkhuseli Mabindla: "I think when kids go back to that ward they definitely would be delighted... to give them something to look back to when they finished their operations."
Derek: "What's your concept of Mandela Day?"
Srini Govender: "It's all about helping, lending a helping hand whenever. I mean, he has contributed so much to this country and it would be nice if everyone just took a few minutes - at least an hour of their day - to give something back."
Bongani: "How has he received all these initiatives in his honour that really are a kind of thank you gift to him?"
Zelda: "He's very touched by it. I think he can feel that he's made a difference and he appreciates it to see people reaching out to others. And he knows he's the inspiration behind that, and I think he finds it very touching."
Derek: "So tomorrow is the day, Mandela's day, and what can you do? Well, you can help children, the elderly, animals, even the environment. Just set aside 67 minutes to get out there and make the world a better place."
Zelda: "I think it is important that people realise that Nelson Mandela is not only a person to take photos with, he is not just a famous world icon. And if you really believe in what he did and that what he did is right, and you really want to see for your children the legacy lives on, people should contribute. People should do something in that 67 minutes on Mandela Day because that's the way we are going to take his leadership and legacy forward."
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:While every attempt has been made to ensure this transcript or summary is accurate, Carte Blanche or its agents cannot be held liable for any claims arising out of inaccuracies caused by human error or electronic fault. This transcript was typed from a transcription recording unit and not from an original script, so due to the possibility of mishearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, errors cannot be ruled out.