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U.S. Singer Donates 200 Pairs of Shoes to Transkei Children
EXCITEMENT was written all over the faces of the needy children of Mvezo – the birthplace of Nelson Mandela – when 200 pairs of shoes donated by American R&B singer Kenny Lattimore were handed over at the weekend.
Lattimore, who became a close friend to the Mandela family, particularly Nkosi Mandla Zwelivelile Mandela after performing at Mandiba’s 80th birthday in 1998, donated the shoes through The Ashé Foundation – a nonprofit organization in California.
The Ashé Foundation is known for its charitable work where they collect and distribute essential goods like, shoes, clothing, necessities, and services to aid the disadvantaged and underprivileged children of African nations. Its name is derived from a Yoruba word, which means “the power to make things happen”.
“For my community of Mvezo we are truly thankful to the Ashé Foundation for this donation. Most of the children living in this area walk barefoot on a daily basis because of the high level of poverty,” said Mandla Mandela in a statement. Mandla could not attend Saturday’s event at Mvezo Great Place near Mthatha where the shoes were distributed. Instead, his mother Nolusapho Mandela-Perry, who is also acting as chief while Mandla is at Parliament – was there to receive and hand over the shoes to children.
The shoes included soccer boots, school shoes, running shoes, sandals, women’s boots, formal shoes, and others.
Mandela-Perry said she and her son met Lattimore in Johannesburg last month when the shoe deal was sealed.
“Kenny and the Ashé Foundation have promised to donate about 5000 pairs of shoes in October (next month).
“Our children in all the six villages of Mvezo and others from neighboring areas really needed shoes desperately. This is a very generous donation. It is doing exactly what we want, making the children happier, making them feel loved and cared for and that they are not inferior to others,” she said.
Anele Ngaliphi, 15-year-old Grade 7 pupil, said it was the first time he had owned a pair of running shoes.
“I am very thankful to the donors and our traditional leaders in Mvezo,” he said.
Unemployed widow and mother of seven, Nowinjini Fulela, 58, said three of her children received shoes. Her other four children live with relatives in the Western Cape.
“I have been struggling to buy clothes, let alone shoes. They had to go to school barefoot. But now they will have something on their feet and will not feel poorer than other children,” Fulela said.
-By Lulamile Feni, Traditional Affairs Reporter