Nelson Mandela International Day was launched with enthusiasm today as Hands Across South Africa (#HandsAcrossSA) gathered momentum with Gareth Cliff’s call for South Africans to join hands for 67 seconds at 8.45 as a positive gesture of togetherness and solidarity – express our shared hopes and dreams for the future in a simple, human ritual.

The Grammy-award winning Soweto Gospel Choir joined Gareth Cliff on 5FM and sang “Happy Birthday Madiba” as well as a heartfelt rendition of Asimbonanga. People were asked to share photographs of their gathering on Twitter and Facebook. #HandsAcrossSA was soon trending as posts flooded in from across the country. People of all walks of life participated with heart-warming photographs from schools,colleges, universities, friends, families, factories, small businesses, corporates – even some motorists and car guards joined hands.

“It may not seem like much, but a simple, symbolic action can manifest very powerful consequences and feelings. At very least they can be the beginning of something which can (in the modern lingo) ‘go viral’ and start a movement. I’m not ashamed to say, some of the pictures made me cry. This is strong stuff…” Gareth said. The photographs will soon appear in a gallery.

After the on-air/social media event, a 67-minute gathering hosted by Gareth Cliff and 5FM was held at the SABC with speeches given by SABC spokesperson Kaiser Kganyago, Group Radio Executive Lesley Ntloko and Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The Soweto Gospel Choir, the choir for all the 46664 concerts over the years, performed for the children of Nkosi’s Haven and the extended family at Headway, an organisation who assist those with brain injuries, for whom Gareth is patron. SABC staff and visitors joined the celebration of Madiba.

5FM continued the Mandela Activities in Soweto with the 5FM team and representatives painting the Holy Cross Day Care Centre, cooking lunch for 150 children, playing soccer with the children from the Thyolweni Orphanage and handing over donations to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. The day ended with The Fresh Drive broadcasting live from Vilakazi Street at Sakhumzi Restaurant.

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