Nelson Mandela University: Mandela University and Foundation to kick off Mandela Month activities

Nelson Mandela University, in support of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, is gearing up to kickstart the series of activities in commemoration of the birth month of the man after whom both institutions are named.

Recognising the intersection between food security and climate change, the institutions’ Mandela Month commemorations have seen them collaborate on a series of community events that are anchored by the tagline “do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. These focus on three sub-themes: fruit and indigenous tree planting, community and backyard gardens, and positive climate action.

The Mandela Month activities will be facilitated through a series of Transect Walk Dialogues (TWDs), which are essentially walks through identified communities, led by the respective community members, and ending in a conversation among those present, guided by specific questions linked to a sub-theme.

“The TWDs present an opportunity to identify the various assets in a community through the eyes of the community, while engaging with contemporary challenges faced by the community and society,” says Dr Bruce Damons, who is project leading the collaboration from Mandela University’s Engagement and Transformation Portfolio.

The first TWD (#1TWD) has two legs, with the first kicking off at Mvezo village, near Mthatha, this weekend and the second getting under way in Cala, in the Chris Hani District Municipality, on Thursday, 21 July 2022. At these locations, the Foundation, University and other partners will be planting trees, which is an initiative that is part of the overall objective of planting 1-million trees throughout the year.

The second TWD (#2TWD) takes place in Zwide, in Gqeberha, on Monday, 18 July, and foregrounds the power of community agency in efforts towards food security. Here, the Foundation and partners will interact with the community with a view to assist with the resourcing of community gardens.

Nelson Mandela Foundation chief executive officer, Mr Sello Hatang, said the Foundation enjoys an interactive working relationship with the University, consolidated since the institution was named after the exemplary leader.

“This is premised on the alignment of the University’s values and principles with those espoused by Mandela. On 18 July 2022, we will visit the community of Zwide in Gqeberha, together, where we hope to create awareness on the intersections between food security and climate change, in a real, demonstrable way, grounded in local communities,” he said.

The third TWD (#3TWD) focuses on climate change, zooming in on the prevailing water crisis in the Nelson Mandela Metro area. This activity will take place next month.

The fourth TWD (#4TWD) takes place in the Missionvale area and focuses on sustainable human settlements. At this community-centred event, the University, Foundation and Habitat for Humanity will sign a memorandum of understanding. It is also during this event that the University will launch two new programme offerings related to human settlement development.

The critical conversations that will occur during the TWDs will culminate in the Mandela Month closing event in the form of The Herald Community Dialogue, scheduled for August 2022.