Freedom Mantle project aims to inspire next generation of leaders
A group of young people passionate about the future of South Africa will seek a double anointing from the Lord as they symbolically take up Nelson Mandela’s mantle at a service of blessing and commitment in Johannesburg as part of countrywide Mandela Day celebrations on Friday ( July 18, 2014).
A mantle in the colours of the South African flag and made by artists from God Adventure Church in East London will be worn at the Johannesburg event by Presiding-Bishop and head of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Bishop Zipho Siwa to symbolise elders passing the mantle of leadership to the younger generation “just as Elijha passed his mantle on to Elisha,” said South African Christian Leaders Initiative (SACLI) spokesman Miles Giljam.
The mantle which is part of the Freedom Mantle Project launched on June 16 by SACLI which aims to inspire the next generation of the country’s leaders.
Nelson Mandela International Day, which was launched by the United Nations in 2009 in recognition of Mandela’s birthday on July 18, is a global call to action, celebrating each individual’s power to make an impact and change the world. People are challenged to give 67 minutes of their time to public service that day — one minute for every year of Mandela’s 67 years of public service.
Bishop Siwa, who preached the sermon at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, will lead the Mandela Day ceremony in Bekkersdal Township outside Johannesburg. The event will take place from 10am t0 1pm at Simunye High School in an area that has been hard hit by service delivery protests.
Fixing and cleaning school, planting trees
About 170 people, including members of the local community, churches, staff of Brand SA and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, are expected to attend the mantle ceremony. During the event young people will fix and clean windows, doors, floors and walls at the neglected school. Trees will also be planted as part of the mantle ceremony.
Commenting on the choice of venue, Bishop Siwa, who is also the President of the South African Council of Churches (SACC), said: “Madiba said that education can transform a nation. My vision is that all our children would have access to quality education. We can, through a solid educational foundation bring forth a generation of people who will want to serve; a people who will have integrity and build on the legacy left by our forebears.”
Giljam said the aim is for the next generation to seek the Lord to give them a double anointing to do greater things than the past generation and to build on what Nelson Mandela achieved. Prophetic artist and designer of the mantle, Audette Jooste, said the idea was to prophetically embed the mantle with the values, vision and blessing of leadership to be passed on to the “next generation of Godly leaders”.
Precursor to huge flag
“The mantle is a precursor to a huge flag which will be made from 5 000 squares of fabric that will be embellished with vision by people all over South Africa.,” Jooste said. “The squares will be sewn together here in East London by local crafters as a symbol of our country’s vision being sewn together in Madiba’s birth province.”
Giljam said SACLI was formed as a common platform to develop national vision, network and amplify the voices of Christian leaders from all sectors of society. SACLI was founded in 2013 by the big three ecumenical organisations: the Evangelical Alliance of SA (TEASA), African Enterprise (AE) and the South African Council of Churches (SACC).
“Our plans and voice are distinctly Christian in content and implemented mostly by our partners but the work we aim to catalyse should serve all South Africans regardless of religion or ethnicity,” Giljam said.
Giljam said after Mandela Day SACLI will be working together with their partners to bring together a summit of young South African leaders to work on their 30 year vision for South Africa. This process of vision casting and communicating the vision in a relevant way, should culminate between December 5 and December 16, 2014, a year after Madiba’s death.
Other events planned to take place around the nation include tree planting ceremonies. Mandela’s death was described by many as being as if a great tree had fallen.
Trees represent young leaders’ commitment
“Planting a tree will symbolise each young leader’s desire and commitment to take up their own leadership space and grow into great trees like Mandela. The trees will visually remind us over the next 30 years of our commitment to grow as leaders in the same way we see our trees grow in stature. Finally the trees and forests left behind after we die will be a reminder to future generations of the commitments our generation made to the nation.”
Sketching how the Freedom Mantle Project came about, Giljam said that three years ago different bishops got together to have a united voice and SACLI came out of those conversations.
SACLI was inspired to launch the Freedom Mantle project for young people when, as part of the FNB memorial service for Mandela, Bishop Ivan Abrahams preached a sermon about crossing the Jordan, a symbolic image of a unique time of change and transition.
”He also spoke about the passing of the mantle from Elijah to Elisha and encouraged young people to pick up the Mandela mantle and ensure that, like Elisha, we continue the work of our forefathers.
Crossing the Jordan moment
“We believe that the nation is about to experience a crossing of the Jordan moment and in order for that to happen the younger generation needs to deliberately ensure that they pick up the mantle of Mandela and his generation. We are coming out of the wilderness and are preparing to take on the giants in our society,” Giljam said.
Youth Coordinator Siki Dlanga, who is also a published poet currently based in East London, said SACLI was looking at ways to ensure that the first year after Mandela’s death is filled with opportunities for young people to be inspired to take up leadership and to engage with other young leaders around a 30 year generational vision for the country. “We want to awake a post-Mandela generation of courageous, visionary, ethical God fearing young leaders to serve South Africa.”
Churches in South Africa made up the largest, most active and most trusted component of civil society with an essential role to play in the future of the nation, she said. “Since 1994 churches have shrunk back from the public space and church leaders are realising it is important they now begin again to serve the nation more deliberately.
Series of events
‘We are planning a series of events with the hope to intensely mobilise young people to commit to leadership and vision for South Africa from June 16, 2014 to June 16, 2015.
“Beyond 2015 the networks, structures and systems developed over this year of mobilisation should help young people to work together to begin to implement the dreams they have begun to develop,” Dlanga said.
The year long programme kicked off with a “Picking up the mantle” ceremony where a group of about 40 South Africans began the journey by climbing up Lion’s Head in Cape Town. The group were attending the Moving Mountains Festival and were part of a group of 100 young people between the ages of 20 and 35 from 16 nations.
The ceremony at the top of Lion’s Head was led by the Rev Edwin Arrison of the Anglican Church, with a poem performed by Dlanga and a talk was given by American Hershey Mallette.
Anybody who would like to partner with SACLI to host a Freedom Mantle event, should contact Dlanga or Giljam at email@example.com