It was a heart-warming day of reading and song for the children of Crown Mines Primary School in Johannesburg today, 18 July 2018, as celebrities and other special guests joined them for an uplifting Mandela Day celebration.
The eldest daughter of the late Nelson and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Zenani Dlamini, the Soweto Gospel Choir, actress Hlubi Mboya-Arnold, and others were there to celebrate with the young recipients of a restocked and refurbished school library, courtesy of the Mandela Library Project.
The Mandela Library Project works with under-resourced schools to establish and maintain container libraries in order to boost literacy.
Along with a new stock of books, the children were the first recipients of Mandela readers ‒ a new book series by renowned author and cartoonist, Tim Mostert. They also joined the Soweto Gospel Choir in a rousing rendition of the new track, Under The Sun, by local band Natural Born Hippies. The song has just been released and all proceeds will go towards the Mandela Library Project.
The library at Crown Mines Primary first opened its doors in February 2015 when it was installed by the Mandela Library Project.
Robert Coutts, Mandela Education Project CEO (under which the library project falls) said it was an honour to return to the school.
“In marking what would have been Tata Madiba’s 100th birthday, we chose to visit Crown Mines Primary, which is particularly close to our hearts. The school was originally opened in the 1930s to service the children of mineworkers and has grown since then. The love and energy put into it by the school leaders and families not only resonates through the whole community, but also captures Madiba’s spirit of giving back.
Education is the foundation of a healthy community. In the schools where we’ve installed libraries, like Crown Mines Primary, we’ve seen a noticeable change in the ability of pupils to learn and understand what they’re taught. And that is why we continue supporting and working with these schools, because it makes a real impact,” he said.
In fact, a recent report by the programme shows that since the implementation of libraries at various schools, learners have demonstrated improved English language skills and academic marks.
Since 2011, the Mandela Library project has seen the delivery of more than 100 libraries. Each library typically services 1 000 children per year and remains active for at least 15 years. So one library will influence 15 000 children on average. Some of the libraries are also open to the surrounding communities, influencing even more people.
The project is the focus this year of one of the Relate Trust’s biggest single crowdfunding initiatives to date: the Mandela Centenary Bracelet campaign. Through individual and business partnerships, their vision is to raise R100 million to create jobs and fund new libraries. To date, Relate has created hundreds of employment opportunities through the making and selling of bracelets for charities worldwide.
Dlamini, who was the honorary guest speaker, spoke of the importance and impact of reading: “Reading was one of my father’s favourite pass times and when I turned 16, one of the books he asked me to read was War and Peace! At 16! But it started my love affair with reading and history that I still enjoy today. Reading gives you the ability to escape to another world and imagine what’s possible if you only try.”
To support the Mandela Library Project and job creation, you can buy Mandela Centenary Relate bracelets from Woolworths stores, select Protea Hotels, Pick n Pay, Made In SA, Out of Africa, and The Tiger’s Eye stores. You can also visit their website.
To find out more about the Mandela Library Project, visit this website.