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Monday, September 8, 2014


(The layout on the Nelson Mandela Square earlier this year gives a fair idea of the number of blankets being created through this project. Pic by Peter Morey)

67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day, a small initiative with a big heart, has beaten corporate giants including Coca-Cola, Kelloggs and KFC for the coveted title of Campaign of the Year. The initiative was launched in December 2013 and, since then, has attracted a global base of loyal supporters or Knit-Wits, as they are often called.

Carolyn Steyn, founder of 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day, was at the inaugural ANN7 South African of the Year 2014 Awards, which was held at the Sandton Convention Centre, to accept the award.

“67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day started out as light-hearted banter between Zelda la Grange and myself with her challenging me to make 67 blankets by Nelson Mandela’s birthday,” said Carolyn Steyn. Fast forward to today and we have unexpectedly become a global movement - we have ambassadors in every corner of South Africa and all over the world and have distributed over 6,000 blankets to those in need. We don’t have a bank account and instead trade in ‘goodwool’. Being considered for this award was an honour and privilege – winning it is a dream come true!”

Steyn thanked her Knit-Wits and said that she had a feeling that Madiba was smiling down on the project: “We have been able to keep so many people warm because of passion - passion for the cause, passion for making a difference and passion for Madiba’s legacy! I would like to take this opportunity to thank and applaud all the Knit-Wits for embracing this initiative with such gusto and enthusiasm.”

Steyn’s next goal is to collect double the amount of blankets for distribution as soon as the cold weather strikes in 2015. To keep the momentum alive, Steyn plans on having knit-a-thons, blanket handovers and even “yarn-bomb” the Nelson Mandela statue at the Union Buildings. “An aerial shot of this sea of blankets around the feet of the Madiba statue could become an iconic image,” concludes Steyn.

For more information, visit or find 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day (South Africa) on Facebook.