SA still missing magic to bring unity – mayor

SEEKING PAYMENT: Artists from the PE Theatre Makers staged a silent protest at the Human Rights Day celebration held at the Donkin Reserve in Port Elizabeth yesterday. They are, from left, Lubabalo Mbombela, Asenda Hanabe and Khanyile Mgqwanci Picture: RIAAN MARAIS
SEEKING PAYMENT: Artists from the PE Theatre Makers staged a silent protest at the Human Rights Day celebration held at the Donkin Reserve in Port Elizabeth yesterday. They are, from left, Lubabalo Mbombela, Asenda Hanabe and Khanyile Mgqwanci
Picture: RIAAN MARAIS

‘Ask what you can do to make this city a better place’

Calls for unity, a celebration of diversity and a look back at historic figures who fought for the rights South Africans now enjoy were on the programme for the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s Human Rights Day celebrations.

More than 1 000 people gathered at the Donkin Reserve where mayor Athol Trollip launched the morning’s event, before they walked with him along the city’s artistic Route 67 in celebration of former president Nelson Mandela’s fight for freedom.

“We have shown the world that we are at our strongest when we stand together,” Trollip said.

“But this also means we are also at our weakest when we are divided. We are still missing that intangible magic that brings us together as a people.

“I would like us to mark this important day which represents all the sacrifices made by so many people to give birth to the new South Africa.

“Ask yourself today what you can do to make this city, and country, a better place,” he said.

Proceedings were opened with a prayer and scripture reading led by Anglican Bishop Bethlehem Nopece, before members of the metro police and the military stood at attention as the giant flag at the Donkin Reserve was lowered to half mast.

The NMMU choir treated the crowd with musical numbers during and after the programme.

Human rights activist and NMMU academic Professor Janet Cherry delved into the country’s past, sharing stories about prominent anti-apartheid figures and their battles against oppression.

“Human rights are not part of colonialism, nor a decolonialist concept. Human rights are essentially universal,” she said.

“They do not belong to the ANC, the PAC, the DA or any other political party. They belong to everyone.”

It seemed as if the event would be interrupted when a group of artists, known as the PE Theatre Makers, led a silent protest over payment for previous performances.

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