Sapinda Rainbow team pay homage to Madiba

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The eight young South African members of the Sapinda Rainbow team paid homage to Nelson Mandela yesterday during a visit to Robben Island.

The visit to the prison where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years was a poignant tribute to Madiba; the young participants in the Sapinda Rainbow team were born in the revolutionary years that ultimately saw the South African icon regain his freedom and go on to be elected President.

The eight ambassadors are flying the flag for Nelson Mandela’s legacy and are an example of the strength of the youth of the country.

Visiting the island, Leg 2 ambassador, Nokulunga Nkwanya a 20-year-old from Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal who has just completed the 3,390 mile race to Cape Town from Rio de Janiero said: “It felt so good to visit Robben Island, it is a special place that has taught me how Nelson Mandela lived, how he survived there, it was very sad for me to learn how he was suffering there and fighting for freedom, the freedom the people of South Africa have today. I think its effected people because I don’t think may young people visit the island and do not have much information about Mandela’s struggle here so I think people do not realise how much of a struggle it was. I would encourage young people to try and visit and teach them about his struggle for them to survive in this world so that they can understand what he went through like I now have.

“It was very frustrating for me because I never thought it was that bad, I felt so much pain, I even cried. Seeing the room, Mandela’s cell and his bed it made me realise that I can do many things, nothing is impossible, like helping other people sacrificing my time like Mandela did for us and helping the next generation - like fundraising for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. I am very proud of him.”  

The ambassadors spent the morning at a workshop learning how to take photographs to capture their visit to the iconic island and to learn how best to capture the conditions whilst sailing on their leg of the race. The workshop was hosted by Thapelo Motsumi from the Wembley to Soweto global photographic project who has recently returned to South Africa from London where he was acting as ambassador for the project and his home country.

Whilst I the UK he collected the Annual Award from the Media Society on behalf of the project. The award recognised the difference that photographs can make to a news story. He was also invited to photograph South African born Dame Janet Suzman and Idris Elba, who stars as Nelson Mandela in the hugely-anticipated film “Long Walk to Freedom”.

Thapelo is working with the Sapinda Rainbow project alongside his colleague from Umuzi Photo Club, Shoneez Cassim for the duration of the Clipper Race stopover located at the V&A Waterfront.

This Saturday is to be designated ‘Sapinda Rainbow Day’ with a busy programme of activities which reunites the team with 19 other candidates shortlisted for the project. In the morning they will go sailing on three 70 foot yachts from the Clipper Race fleet. At 1.30pm everyone s invited to join them at the race village for a celebration of their achievements with representatives from the Nelson Mandela Chldren’s Fund and Hospital Trust paying tribute to their achievements.

There will be a party atmosphere all afternoon including entertainment provided by an exciting local Marimba band called Abavuki - a group of young musicians from Langa, a township near Cape Town. The name "Abavuki" means "Wake up, early birds!" and refers not only to their youth, but also to their philosophy of seizing the moment and getting things done for themselves. The band says they identify very strongly with The Sapinda Rainbow team as they are from similar backgrounds and greatly admire their determination and courage.

Photo credit: Wembley to Soweto and Umuzi Photo Club