Before spending 27 years as a political prisoner, former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, lived with his family with a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Gompo, in a small house on Vilakazi Street in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Gompo, with his light reddish coat was a fitting companion for Madiba, who often took time out as a legendary leader to see to animal welfare. Ridgebacks as a breed are described as intelligent, strong-willed, and loyal.
The breed was approved by the South African Kennel Union in 1927 and at present is the only registered breed indigenous to Southern Africa.
In addition to his humanitarian work, Mandela was strong on conservation of wildlife. He was instrumental in facilitating animal migration routes in Africa. Mandela’s compassion also extended to companion animals by being a patron of animal welfare organisations.
He was famous for saying: “If we do not do something to prevent it, Africa's animals, and the places in which they live, will be lost to our world, and her children, forever. Before it is too late, we need your help to lay the foundation that will preserve this precious legacy long after we are gone.”
Worldwide this legacy of compassion to humankind and animals is honoured on Mandela’s birthday, the 18th of July. This is an opportunity for individuals and corporations to dedicate 67-minutes of their time to make the world a better place. The 67-minutes guideline is in honour of the 67 years Mandela spent to fight for social justice.
This year on Mandela Day, why don't you extend your enthusiasm to #LiveKinder and give back to man’s best friend in all sorts of ways by showing the same sort of compassion as Nelson Mandela to animal welfare. Let us honour his contribution and his love for his dog, Gompo and all animals.
- Funding a dog sterilisation at an animal welfare shelter that focuses on informal settlement areas. Giving 67-minutes to a school class in your community to educate learners on how to take care of a dog.
- Arrange your own Walk-A-Dog-For-67-minutes event in a local park for the neighbourhood furry friends or even shelter dogs and ask a gift as admission to donate to an animal shelter.
- Collect a wish list from your local charity of 67 needed items and ask your family and friends to support.
- Sponsoring an animal at a shelter for a year with R67 a month donation.
- Taking hands as friends or companies to sponsor wood and nails and bring tools along to make 67 dog kennels for dogs in shelters.
- Pledging at a dog-shelter to take their dogs for 67-walkies throughout the year.
- As a corporation or workplace, sponsoring the training of a therapy dog puppy, like a guide dog for the blind, and offering to foster the puppy at an employee’s home.
- Collecting funds to buy 67 tick and flea medications to donate to your nearest shelter for better health amongst their doggy population.
- Organising a Stitch-a-Thon where volunteers can bring their overlockers and sewing machines to sew a few quilts or blankets for dogs at shelters.
So, this Mandela Day and every other day, let’s honour that great bond between man and his best friend and #LiveKinder.