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Saturday, July 20, 2013 | 00:00

Airports Company South Africa, Cape Town International Airport (ACSA CTIA) will be celebrating Mandela Day at Robben Island on Thursday, 18 July 2013. This year the airport is taking 67 matric learners from schools located in disadvantaged communities surrounding the airport to Robben Island. A heart-felt thanks to Pick n Pay for donating food for the Learners’ stay-over on Robben Island, this generous contribution really made a significant difference.   The 67 learners represent the 67 years in which Nelson Mandela served the people of South Africa. This is also another way of celebrating this magnanimous man’s life by sharing his history with the youth.

Mandela Day aims to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better. It ultimately seeks to empower communities everywhere. “The theme for this year’s Mandela Day initiative is that your circumstances do not define who you are; it is your actions that define your destiny”, said Deborah Francis, Cape Town International acting Communications Manager. “This applies to the youth we are taking on this journey as they finish their high school years and go out to be contributing citizens in the near future,” added Francis.

The learners will be spending the night on the eve of Mandela Day on Robben Island. They will learn about life on the island and receive a lecture from one of the former political prisoners. There will also be a “Umrhabulo session” which is a planning session.  “A “Umrhabulo session” was done by political prisoners on their stay at Robben Island and the aim of this session is to help learners identify challenges and strategically find solutions to encounters they face in life,” said Francis. 

On 18 July 2013, the learners will present their findings of the “Umrhabulo session” to the former political prisoners.  An educational tour of Island will then take place thereafter and students will explore and learn more about the island.

The day will culminate in a Tree Planting ceremony on the island to commemorate the leaners’ educational tour of the island. “The symbolism of the tree is to show the learners that you need to take root in any adverse environment and continue to grow. These learners will be leaving school at the end of the year and will become future leaders of their communities and maybe the country. The airport wants them to embrace where they come from and use it to make them bigger, better and stronger people. The tree will face hardships on the island, just like Nelson Mandela did and like the learners have to face every day. The tree represents hope and will need to be strong and battle through the elements to become a big strong tree. Mandela used the time on the island to think big, explore beyond the prison walls and he stepped out strong and tall to become the first democratic president of the Republic of South Africa.  This is certainly an ideal that we want all learners from different communities to aspire towards.” concluded Francis

As part of our 20 years celebration Airports Company South Africa has demonstrated commitment to its communities and the business will continue to pursue various opportunities of uplifting those who are in need of our assistance for next 20 years and more.

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