Jean-Jacques Cornish

South African give 67 minutes of service to mark Mandela’s birthday

South Africans commemorate the birthday of Nelson Mandela today(Monday) by giving  67 minutes to improve the lives of less fortunate compatriots.

The figure comes from the number of years the former president and apartheid icon served the public.

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At schools, universities, businesses, government offices around the country, South Africans will demonstrate the power of volunteerism.

They’ll spend at least 67 minutes painting orphanages, clinics and schools, weeding  gardens, spring clean old people homes or cooking  a meal and entertain their inmates.

There’s some competition to come up with the most helpful and imaginative idea.

Local and national media are hungry to snap up these stories.

President Jacob Zuma, who’s at the African Union Summit in Kigali, has issued a statement urging his compatriots to make their contributions meaningful.

Every member of his Cabinet will lead officials in giving their 67 minutes of service.

There is no legal obligation on anyone to make the sacrifice.

Yet it is difficult to imagine anyone not making an effort.

Mandela’s private secretary Zelda la Grange, who has become a keen motorcyclist,  will lead a rally designed to help restore the confidence of victims of gender based violence before roaring on to plant a vegetable garden for a women’s shelter.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.