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July 16, 2010

Cape Town celebrates Ubuntu Festival and Mandela Day this weekend


Nelson Mandela on the cover of the Cape Argus. Photo courtesy Warren Rohner

The 2010 FIFA World Cup™ has drawn to a close, which means tourists are bidding adieu to Cape Town and jetting back to their home countries. There’s no doubt that their bags are crammed with South African souvenirs and World Cup memorabilia (a vuvuzela is sure to be sandwiched somewhere between their jeans and jerseys), but tourists will also be departing from the Mother City with priceless memories that will last a lifetime. Among them, of course, is the spirit of ubuntu.

Ubuntu, for those of you not in the know, is a philosophy about the interconnectedness of human relations. Archbishop Desmond Tutu defined it as “the essence of being human ... It embraces hospitality, caring about others, being able to go the extra mile for the sake of others. We believe that a person is a person through another person, that my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours.”

South Africans wowed the world during the World Cup by uniting as a country, welcoming tourists with open arms and demonstrating national pride like never before. Now that’s not just ubuntu or the spirit of it – it’s also ayoba!

Capetonians have never been ones to stop celebrating, which is why the city will keep the spirit alive by hosting the second annual Ubuntu Festival from Friday, July 16 to Monday, July 19.

The Ubuntu Festival celebrates the Mother City, its people and former president Nelson Mandela, who will celebrate his 92nd birthday on Sunday, July 18.

The festival will take place in the heart of the city and is jam-packed with events that centre around the concept of ubuntu. 

It kicks off with a business breakfast at the Pavilion Conference Centre at the V&A Waterfront on July 16. Top business people will have the opportunity to network and will hear a speech by long-standing politician and author Mewa Ramgobin.

A community cook-off will take place on Saturday, July 17, at the Atrium at Mandela Rhodes Place. Chefs from the Three Cities Hotels will gather to prepare food for shelters around the city from 10h00. Capetonians can volunteer their time and spend their 67 Mandela Day minutes at the cook-off, helping to prepare meals for those in need. The event is sure to be fun-filled – the Giggling Gourmet, Jenny Morris, will be on hand to help from 12h00. 

Later that day, a gala dinner will be held at the Rainbow Room at Mandela Rhodes Place. The event – which is in celebration of Mr Mandela’s 92nd birthday – will feature a four-course meal and performances by the Gugulethu Tenors, amongst others.

On Sunday, July 18 and Mr Mandela’s 92nd birthday, a free music festival will take place at the Grand Stage on St George’s Mall. Set to take to the stage are Good Hope FM DJs and lots of other performers, including CODA and Out of Africa. The festival will begin at 10h00 and will continue into the early evening.

Foodies can head to the Cultural Cuisine Quarter on the same day to taste local delicacies and international favourites.

Mandela Day will see people from all over the city demonstrating the spirit of ubuntu by giving up 67 minutes of their time to help others. Seniors in the Edgemead, Bothasig area are invited to enjoy free tea and cake at the Edgemead Community Hall, while Robben Island will be inviting 12 school children from Heideveld High School to visit the historic site for free. To find out more about how Capetonians are dedicating their time, or to register your Mandela Day activity, click here.

The Ubuntu Festival will culminate in the Ubuntu Symposium at the Taj Hotel on Monday, July 19. The event will explore the meaning, spirit and power of ubuntu in the hopes that Cape Town will be able “to entrench the ethos of ubuntu” long after the World Cup.

The Mother City is a place of diversity but also of togetherness. The festival will prove that the spirit, the gees, lives on in Cape Town despite the end of the World Cup. 

The Ubuntu Festival is sure to be a spirited celebration and a fitting tribute to Cape Town, its residents and Madiba. To learn more about festival events, visit the South African Ubuntu Foundation website.

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