Things to do on Mandela Day in Cape Town

Mandela Day is a special day on the South African calendar. It takes place on Nelson Mandela’s birthday, the 18th July. This year is the Mandela Centenary—it would have been his hundredth birthday. It is a tradition to spend 67 minutes (which reflects Mandela’s 67 years of service to South Africa) trying to make the world a better place. International Nelson Mandela Day (18th July) came about on Mandela’s 90th birthday, when he gave a speech telling the world, “It’s in your hands now”. There are loads of volunteering opportunities, significant sites to visit, and special events taking place to honour the legacy of the man who led our young democracy out of apartheid. Read on to get some ideas on how to spend Mandela Day in Cape Town.

Take a tour of Robben Island

Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island. Take a tour of the island for a moving visit to his cell, as well as other cells occupied by his contemporaries in the struggle for freedom.

Enter the City Sightseeing Competition to Pay it Forward

The concept behind this giveaway is that people can nominate someone they feel is deserving of an amazing day out. Nominations are open for that special friend who needs a break, the family down the road who have not been on holiday in years or even the granny in the local home that would love a trip around the city with her friends. All nominations will be collected via social media and the lucky recipients will be drawn on Mandela Day.


See the Mandela Trilogy at Artscape

The Cape Town Opera will celebrate the Mandela Centenary with two concert performances of the widely traveled Mandela Trilogy at the Artscape Opera House. In three acts highlighting Madiba’s youth in Qunu, early adulthood in Sophiatown and incarceration on Robben Island, the work fuses Xhosa traditional, jazz, and contemporary classical music to electrifying effect.

Build Kennels on Mandela Day for Khayalitsha Pets

Spend your 67 minutes building warm winter kennels for the pets of Khayelitsha. They provide the wood, and you bring a hammer, paint brush, and measuiring tape to help construct the doggie dwellings. You’re also welcome to take along decor for the kennels. Book tickets soon to avoid missing out on the wholesome fun!

See the Minnesota Orchestra perform live

The acclaimed American Minnesota Orchestra will honor Mandela’s centenary year by touring South Africa in August. The concert will feature soprano Goitsemang Oniccah Lehobye and music by Bernstein and Beethoven.

Visit Pollsmoor and Drakenstein Prisons

When Mandela was in Pollsmoor Prison in 1985, he was offered freedom by President PW Botha. The only condition? He renounce violence. Mandela refused and suffered in Pollmoor, almost dying 3 years later of tuberculosis. Pollsmoor is still a functioning prison, but if you’re up for something a little different, you can grab a bite to eat at the canteen, which is staffed by inmates. After six years in Pollsmoor, Madiba was moved to Drakenstein for 14 months. He walked out with a radio and his surfboard at age 70. A bronze statue commemorates his triumphant release (with that iconic raised fist!) and you can view the house he was imprisoned in.

Fold Autism Awareness pamplets

Spend your 67 minutes helping to fold pamphlets with information about autism this Mandela Day. Autism Western Cape will distribute thousands of these pamphlets to help raise awareness and educate the public.

Indulge in Sweet Treats for a Good Cause

SPAR will be hosting a Cake Sale at the entrance to their Cape Quarter store in Green Point on Mandela Day. All proceeds go to charity.

Watch Majozi live for the greater good

Majozi is a proudly South African musician who has recently emerged onto the scene from the coastal city of Durban. He describes his music as being Indie-folk with subtle influences of electro and attributes his faith as one of his musical inspirations. This Mandela Day all proceeds will go to the Happy Africa Foundation.

Book your tickets through Webtickets now


Make Mandela Day Soup

Head to the Green Point Soup Kitchen this Mandela Day, armed with a knife, chopping board, potato peeler and a bag of veggies. Last year the soup kitchen made 1000 litres of soup to feed the hungry, and this year, with your help, they hope to beat that!

Make a Mandela Mosaic from tinned food

In aid of the no fee LEAP Science and Maths schools, Canal Walk Shopping Centre, LEAP and their partners – Rhodes Food Group – are calling for donations of food cans and volunteers to help them create the super-sized likeness of the Father of our Nation. There will also be a host of fun activities and performances throughout the fun day. The team is now aiming to go further by collecting 20,400 cans of food to build this year’s 16m by 8m image.

Mandela Day

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