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Tens of thousands of people, both young and old, from across South Africa have joined together for the Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run.

The commemorative event, which attracted thousands of people on Sunday, symbolised the late statesman’s life — which he sacrificed while fighting for freedom.

Now in its fifth year, the event was organised by the Gauteng Provincial Government in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the City of Tshwane.

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The foundation’s CEO Sello Hatang said this year’s Mandela Centenary Celebrations have been spectacular — which also included Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, presented and hosted by the Motsepe Foundation, at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium on December 2.

“The Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run is the perfect ending to a memorable year and is a family event that is open to all,” Hatang said.

The event started at the Union Buildings, in Pretoria — which is where the country’s official government offices are located, and where Mandela’s 9 metres statue seat — and saw people taking part in a 5 kilometre walk, or 10 and 21 kilometre runs.

The activities honour the year that marks 100 years since the birth of Mandela. Mandela passed on five years ago, on December 5 2013.

“It is a celebration of the legacy and contribution of South Africa’s first democratic president,” according to a press release provided to Global citizen.

The event also paid tribute to fellow anti-apartheid activist, Ma Albertina Sisulu, as well as Margaret Gaso, one of those who spearheaded the historic Women’s March on the Union Buildings in 1956.

The event was attended by local, provincial, and national government leaders, including Gauteng Premier David Makhura, according to a press release provided to Global Citizen.

Makhura said in a statement that the provincial government has made a commitment to continue to grow this event in the years to come — adding that this year saw 30,000 people participating.

Makhura said his government had decided that the last significant event in the Gauteng province before Christmas would be one for all South Africans to come together to remember the last walk of Nelson Mandela’s life.

When Mandela died, his remains were held at the Union Buildings amphitheatre for people to view and to pay their respects, before being sent to his final resting place.

“As we walk through the streets of Tshwane we are recommitting to live together as equals, in dignity, and to strive to eradicate poverty,” Makhura added.

He added: “By participating in this event we are also committing to building a non-racial, non-sexist country, and we want Nelson Mandela to know where he is right now in heaven that we are committed to building a country that is consistent with the vision that he had for us, and we will continue to do so with this event every year.”

A Nelson Mandela Foundation’s board member, Tokyo Sexwale, said in a press release provided to Global citizen he was delighted to be walking together with thousands of people.

“The statue says it all,” he said. “He can never die, Nelson Mandela. We have a living icon in all of us and those who don’t know that, will never know just what strength South Africa has.”

“Look at the multitudes, people have turned out in great numbers today,” he continued. “As the Nelson Mandela Foundation, we are very happy.”

Mayor of Tshwane, Solly Msimanga, said in a press release provided to Global citizen the event was a success, hailing it as a fantastic tribute to the “greatest statesman that has ever lived.”

“This event brought together people of all persuasions,” said Msimanga. “It was electric, people came in their numbers, young and old, to say we are about one South Africa.”

“This is what Nelson Mandela is now looking down on from heaven and saying he wanted to build in South Africa,” Msimanga continued. “People came together today not only to remember him but to say they want to live his legacy.”

Mandela’s eldest grandchild, Ndileka Mandela, reflected on her grandfather’s passing and said the day had also brought some sadness to his family about his passing.

“There was a lot of sadness, in that time flies and it’s now five years since Tata’s passing, but there was also a lot of happiness to see his spirit still being so wonderfully captured by so many people," she said in a statement.

All proceeds from the event will go to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.


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Tens of Thousands of South Africans Join Together to Walk and Run in Remembrance of Nelson Mandela

By Thato Mahlangu