The ninth edition of the Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run was back to its beautiful, brilliant best this weekend as thousands gathered in Tshwane to pay special tribute to the memory of former South African President, Nelson Mandela.
Top elite runners mixed with social Sunday trundlers in the unique event held on Sunday over a 5 kilometre walk or 10 and 21 kilometre run, which began and ended at Tshwane’s Union Buildings and passed many poignant sites that were special and significant in Madiba’s life in the country’s capital.
It was a day about fun, camaraderie, and reflection as people from all walks of life kept Madiba’s indomitable spirit alive in an event that has over the years been one of the biggest and most powerful gatherings in the country’s calendar.
The event was hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation and the City of Tshwane, with the Foundation’s Chief Executive, Sello Hatang, dusting off his walking shoes to join the many who participated in today’s event.
Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi, and Gauteng MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, MorakaneMosupyoe, joined the revelers at this hugely popular event.
“The Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run is an important opportunity for us to celebrate the immense contribution and positive legacy of Nelson Mandela. It also highlights the importance of sports and social cohesion and the need for Gauteng residents to take up an active lifestyle. It was great to see a huge crowd of people from all walks of life gathering at the Union Buildings and encouraging especially to see so many young people taking part,” said Lesufi.
Mosupyoe and the department’s team were active participants in the walk and committed to doing a longer distance at next year’s event.
“This is such a significant day and event for all South Africans. The participation of the youth in the Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run is especially important, as they are central to continuing Madiba’s legacy and being a lens for the country’s leaders to understand the needs of the youth and to set the tone for their activation participation in the running of the country and driving its direction in future,” said Mosupyoe.
Top runners like Charne Bosman again lined up at the start, with footballers such as Kalusha Bwalya, Tebogo Moloi, Doctor Khumalo, and wheelchair tennis champion, Kgothatso Montjane also joining the crowds who took part on the day.
South African elite champion runner Bosman is a regular annual participant in the Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run and cantered through to win the 21 kilometre race.
“I am always happy to participate in the Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run, given its special significance in celebrating Madiba’s life and the huge contribution and sacrifice he made for our country. It’s always so good to see such a good mix of people participating, especially the youngsters. This is an event I look forward to and it was very enjoyable taking part again this year,” said Bosman.
Legendary former footballers have been integral to the success of this event since its inception, and Khumalo is spearheading a wonderful initiative, which will encompass the rest of the African continent, to mark the 10th edition of this event next year.
Khumalo is looking to involve football and running legends from each of the 54 African countries to participate in and promote the Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run in their countries next year to make the 10th anniversary of marking Madiba’s legacy truly continental.
Khumalo has already lined up Nigerian Super Eagles icon Jay Jay Okocha, Ghana’s Anthony Baffoe, and Zambia’s Bwalya to support the promotion of a decade of this truly special event across the African continent.
Entries will be virtual across the continent and will attract athletes, football stars, influencers, and Africans of all persuasions, colours, and creeds next year.
Today’s ninth edition of the event included entertainment for children, a concert on the lawns, and fitness displays, with plenty of food and drink on sale.
“The Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run is our way of honouring Madiba’s legacy by bringing people in South Africa together, uniting them, and giving them a sense of belonging. It is also a reminder of what makes this country and continent truly special and a reminder of Mabiba’s huge contribution to ensuring the freedoms we enjoy today. It also celebrates Madiba’s love for fitness and a healthy lifestyle, particularly walking and I want to sincerely thank all those who joined us at the Union Buildings today. We hope this family event will continue to honour Madiba’s legacy and make us all reflect on our lives and the example we want to be for our families,” Hatang said after today’s event.
Hatang said the Nelson Mandela Foundation has made great strides in the last few years and continues to work hard to make Madiba proud, adding that he was looking forward to next year’s African celebration marking a decade of this powerful event.
Next year’s event will be held on Sunday 10 December 2023 across the streets of Africa, which will be inundated with a beautiful sea of Africans from all walks of life, ages, and religious beliefs who will run, walk, and commemorate 10 years since Madiba’s passing, remembering him and living his legacy in the best way possible.