The 18th of July 2018 marked, what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday.
To recognise the ex-President of South Africa’s fight for human rights and freedoms at home and around the world, the United Nations declared this date to be called Mandela Day in 2009.
In December 2013, Zelda la Grange who was Mandela’s personal aide for nineteen years asked Carolyn Steyn, a prominent supporter of the arts in South Africa to create 67 blankets on Mandela Day, which could then be distributed to those in need.
Carolyn accepted the challenge and through social media and her own network of friends and colleagues motivated hundreds of people from around the world to pledge to knit a blanket.
Since then, 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day has become a movement that has captured the attention of corporations, celebrities and “KnitWits for Madiba” from all over the world.
In its short existence, the campaign has achieved some remarkable firsts including the Guinness World Record for the “The Largest Crochet Blanket in the World” which measured 3,377 square meters when it was displayed at the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 2015.
That same year, Carolyn Steyn formalised a partnership between 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day and the Department of Correctional Services to introduce the campaign into every prison in South Africa. The aim was and continues to be, to show that with the right support and skills, everyone can change for the better.
The initiative is being used as a means of rehabilitation and skills development as well as enabling those incarcerated to integrate within the broader society by knitting in the name of the greatest prisoner of them all – Nelson Mandela.
On 4th April this year, VividX2 the video-producing satellite owned and operated by BARSC member, Earth-i captured the woven mural that the inmates of the Zonderwater Correctional Facility had created and laid out within the walls of their prison.
The remarkable footage shows the smiling face of Mandela, that became so famous and revered around the world and, when compared to the size of the accommodation blocks, shows just how much effort and time would have gone into creating such an incredible and important work of art!