Secret scarves initiative warms bodies, hearts

FEELING THE LOVE: Nelson Mandela Bay residents Vuyani Ntamo, Nana Tagoe, Sharon Marias and Avelile Jozela were among thousands around the country who received free scarves as part of the 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day campaign’s secret scarf mission yesterday. Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN
FEELING THE LOVE: Nelson Mandela Bay residents Vuyani Ntamo, Nana Tagoe, Sharon Marias and Avelile Jozela were among thousands around the country who received free scarves as part of the 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day campaign’s secret scarf mission yesterday. Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

MORE than 150 scarves brightened up the steel Nelson Mandela and black voting-line cutouts of adults and children lining the walkway along the Donkin Reserve in Central yesterday.

The scarves – in all colours, designs and sizes – were handmade as part of the 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day campaign which encourages people around the world to knit or crochet blankets to keep the needy warm in honour of the former president and in keeping with the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Nelson Mandela Day campaign.

At the start of last month, campaign founder Carolyn Steyn challenged KnitWits, as the campaign’s supporters are called, to make scarves for a secret mission, the details of which were only revealed on Tuesday.

The scarves – each with the campaign’s label and a note saying “I am not lost. If you are cold and need me please take me” – were put up at locations around the country at 3pm yesterday.

Nana Tagoe, 30, of Kwazakhele, was among those in Port Elizabeth to take two scarves, for himself and his two-month-old son, Joshua.

“Oh wow. I feel great to be able to choose a scarf. It’s winter and my son also needs to feel warm,” he said.

Friends Heidi Damons, 26, of Jacksonville, and Andisive Warrington, 23, of Motherwell, squabbled over a multicoloured scarf, with Damons winning in the end.

“It makes me feel privileged. I now have a memory of Mandela.

“I chose this one because of the colours. It’s symbolic of the rainbow nation coming together, knitted into each other,” Damons said.

Warrington, who then chose a scarf draped around Madiba’s neck, said it meant a lot to be able to receive something handmade.

“The love and warmth that went into it, I feel it,” she said.

Dali Zulu Mulimba, 52, of Central, took a scarf for herself and one for her husband. “It’s a blessing, an unexpected gift. May God bless them for taking the time to make these scarves, especially because it’s winter,” she said.

Msondezi Harrison, 40, of New Brighton, said: “I’m so happy to get a scarf because I have never owned one before. This will come in handy this winter, and I also love the colours.”

The campaign’s Port Elizabeth ambassador, Jacquene Anderson, said they had received 156 scarves for the initiative and, within 30 minutes, they all had new owners.

Steyn said they were doing this “in the name of our beloved Nelson Mandela as we try to live his legacy one stitch at a time”.

“Thank you to each and every single KnitWit for Madiba who slaved away making such beautiful scarves.

“Thank you for your enthusiasm and generosity – and for undertaking to do this without even knowing the reason.

“And now we have thousands of scarves to wrap around trees.

“These are our gifts of love to [the people who need it],” she said.

“Your efforts will make a difference in so many lives. We will show the world Madiba’s dream, a dream of his Rainbow Nation.

“Stitch by stitch, we will weave our nation together and warm the hearts and bodies of our people.”

Steyn said yesterday proved that their efforts had not been in vain.

“Someone asked why we don’t do this on Mandela Day. My response was that 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day regards every day as a Mandela Day.

“We have already handed out way over 6 700 blankets countrywide.

“We don’t wait for one particular day of the year to do something good for others. It is cold now. People need warmth now,” she said.

In April, the campaign broke the Guinness World Record for the largest crochet blanket, measuring 3 377m².

The more than 4 000 blankets were laid out around the Nelson Mandela statue at the Union Building lawns in Pretoria.

– Karen van Rooyen, additional reporting by Siyamtanda Capa

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