MEDIA STATEMENT BY MINISTER OF TOURISM, PATRICIA DE LILLE
This year, as we mark Mandela Day under the theme “It’s in your hands,” I reflect on the many men and women across the country who extend their hands to serve the most vulnerable every day. These are the individuals in our communities who provide soup or sandwiches, sell affordable fruits and vegetables to the poor, and take care of children or run community gardens. They are the unsung heroes of our nation, embodying the ethos of former President Nelson Mandela’s life: to serve with humility and compassion.
They emulate Tata Nelson Mandela’s life by opening their homes to provide shelter, feeding hungry children and families, and lending a helping hand to alleviate the burden on the most vulnerable in our society. Mandela Day, observed on 18 July each year, sees South Africans coming together to perform acts of service for those in need, also known as “67 minutes for Mandela,” reflecting Madiba’s 67 years of service to the country. People across the country roll up their sleeves to serve the needy.
This year, South Africans are called to contribute to turning the tide against food insecurity and climate change in honor of Nelson Mandela’s legacy. Climate change threatens to reverse the progress our country has made towards eradicating hunger and malnutrition. South Africans can play a crucial role in securing our food supply through home or community food gardens.
Despite progress, economic constraints continue to make it difficult for many people, especially the most vulnerable in our society, to put food on their tables. It is disheartening that 29 years since the dawn of our democracy, many families and children still struggle to access sufficient food and often go days without a meal. As a country, we must do more across all sectors. We need to go beyond Mandela Day and 67 minutes, seeking ways each day to serve and help those in need.
Whether it is planting seeds or making a sandwich for someone in need during our daily journeys, every small act of service reflects our humanity and moral values. As Nelson Mandela, the father of our nation, said: “Our economic approach to food and its distribution reflects our basic moral values.”
In line with this spirit of service, as part of Mandela Day activities, I visited the impoverished community of Riemvasmaak in the ZF Mgcawu District Municipality, Northern Cape. This area, steeped in history, underwent forced removals of its residents by the Apartheid government in the early 1970s. However, in 1994, 75,000 hectares of land were returned to the people of Riemvasmaak in the first land restitution project announced by Nelson Mandela.
Today, Riemvasmaak is a wilderness area with immense tourism potential, and the Riemvasmaak Trust is working to develop tourism projects in collaboration with the Northern Cape Department of Tourism. These projects have already created job opportunities for the community members, contributing to sustainable economic growth.