The 18th of July is Nelson Mandela’s birthday and is recognised worldwide as Mandela Day: a day to celebrate his values, commemorate his work toward equality for all and the belief that individual actions can empower and change the world.
Wales has a history of solidarity with Nelson Mandela, supporting his anti-apartheid movement when he was incarcerated for 27 years. Mandela was awarded the Freedom of the City of Cardiff in 1998 and during his visit he praised Wales for its part in the anti-apartheid struggle.
“The knowledge that local authorities all over Wales were banning apartheid products from canteens and schools; and that the universities, the Welsh Rugby Union, and the choirs had cut their links, was a great inspiration to us in our struggle,” the president told guests at Cardiff Castle in 1998. “So, too, was the contribution of organised Welsh workers. Action on such a scale could only flow from strong support by ordinary Welsh people on the ground. So we knew that the Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement spoke for a people who cared for our freedom as their own,”
Cardiff will again remember Mandela in August when a musical tribute to his life will be staged at the Wales Millennium Centre from 24 – 27 August. The show is a co-production between two major Welsh and South African companies: Wales Millennium Centre and Cape Town Opera. ‘Mandela Trilogy’ will be performed by a company of over 60 South African performers, bringing to the stage the uplifting story of Mandela’s transformation from freedom fighter to president.
To celebrate Mandela Day we spoke to members of the team at Wales Millennium Centre who volunteer their time to organisations close to their hearts, and explain why giving back is so important to them.