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Millions to sing Madiba special birthday song

18 July 2011 - 00:37 By Linda Doke
Xolani Mootane, centre, the composer of a special birthday song for Nelson Mandela, with pupils from Buhlebemfundo Secondary School in Tsakane on the East Rand. The children will be among the millions of pupils who, the Department of Education hopes, will sing the song at 8:05am tomorrow.
Xolani Mootane, centre, the composer of a special birthday song for Nelson Mandela, with pupils from Buhlebemfundo Secondary School in Tsakane on the East Rand. The children will be among the millions of pupils who, the Department of Education hopes, will sing the song at 8:05am tomorrow.
Image: JAMES OATWAY

Imagine the sweet sound of 12.5 million pupils singing a song. Imagine that song being the birthday wish for one man, a great man, a man who has lived his life for others, a man loved the world over.

That man is our Madiba, and his special birthday song will be sung at precisely 8.05am today by pupils across South Africa to celebrate the 93rd birthday of South Africa's first democratically elected president.

Initiated by the Department of Education, the Tata Madiba birthday initiative will mobilise more than 12 million pupils across South Africa to sing happy birthday. In so doing, it will be acknowledged as the world's greatest ever number of people simultaneously wishing one person happy birthday, and could achieve Guinness Book of Records recognition.

The plan is simple: at 7.50am the South African flag will be hoisted at every school in the country; at 7.55am the national anthem will be sung; and at precisely 8.05am children in schools across South Africa will sing the birthday song that has been written specially for this event.

"This is unique. It will be a world first, and it is specially for Madiba," says the Department of Education's Panyaza Lesufi, who is special adviser to the minister of basic education.

"The birthday song initiative is linked to the Department of Education's drive to promote values and a 'Bill of Responsibilities' among pupils.

"Its intention is to mobilise all South Africans, unite the country through our children, and sing together in honour of Nelson Mandela, whose life has taught us that unity and social cohesion is all important.

"As education is a priority in South Africa and has always been an issue close to Nelson Mandela's heart, the need to mobilise the nation around education is crucial. Knowing how much Madiba loves children, we felt the mobilisation of more than 12 million schoolchildren to sing for Tata Madiba would be a fitting tribute."

To reinforce the Department of Education's literary drive, the government is also calling on all South Africans to donate books to schools and libraries to encourage a culture of reading for the nation's children.

HALALA MADIBA, HALALA!

Happy birthday to you,

Happy birthday to you,

Happy birthday dear Tata,

Happy birthday to you.

We love you Tata

We love you Tata

We love you Tata

We love you Tata

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela. Ha hona ya tshwanang le wena (there's no one like you).

Ha hona ya tshwanang le wena, ha hona ya tshwanang le wena.

Yeep yeep!

Hooray!

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