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Wednesday, February 11, 2015


(Pauline Dalais, Judith Ntsele, Ewan Slabber, Caroline Smart and Thulile Zama frantically knitting up a storm ahead of the Handover. Pic by Marilyn Bernard, courtesy of the Daily News)

Handover of beautiful knitted and crocheted blankets with top class entertainment. (Review by Bev Millar)

Sunday saw the first Durban Handover of beautiful knitted and crocheted blankets created by the Knitwits and Happy Hookers of KwaZulu-Natal for the 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day campaign. The event took place at Westville Country Club’s The Venue which hosts Rhumbelow Theatre productions. On arrival, the participants were entertained by a musical ensemble from Westville Boys High School under the direction of Luke Holder.

The event was highlighted by a concert featuring the cream of KZN’s entertainment talent. Carolyn Steyn, well-known Johannesburg actress, arts patron and founder of the campaign, gave a short history of 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day. She thanked the artists, technicians and all those involved who gave freely of their time and talents for this wonderful cause.

We were then treated to a programme of varied and contrasting acts, performed by some of the top artists from KwaZulu-Natal. Age was no barrier, either. Two of the younger performers were Ella Grealy from Nottingham Road and the very talented 18 year-old young pianist, Ewan Slabber. Grealy sang the theme song for the project, Knit a Blanket and Birdy’s Skinny Love, while Slabber played Liebestraum No.2 by Frans Liszt.

The youngsters were followed by the pantsula dance group Angel Players. Pinkie Mtshali and Thulile Zuma, known as The Big Girls, sang The Click Song. Next was Tim Moloi, who gave a moving rendition of Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up. He has also made three blankets for the project.

The Glitter Girls - Lisa Bobbert, Liesl Coppin and Marion Loudon - took us back to their schooldays with a selection of Bananarama hits, including Robert De Niro’s Waiting and Love in the First Degree. Bobbert then joined Steven Stead with The Song That Goes Like This from Spamalot, which had the audience in stitches.

Aaron McIlroy and Andy Turrell performed Think About It from their show The Ranga. McIlroy was hilarious, but even funnier was Turrell’s deadpan expression throughout.

Durban’s own Living Legend, Caroline Smart who co-ordinated the entertainment programme, performed Raoul Dahl’s dark version of Snow White, which went down well with the audience.

The highly talented Jonathan Roxmouth, who is currently appearing in Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, successfully and humorously hosted the proceedings.

The show’s finale, Tomorrow, was performed by the adorable Luca Tarboton, who was Annie in last year’s production of the same name produced by KickstArt productions. She was then joined on stage by the full cast of the show which was produced by the Rhumbelow Theatre’s Roland Stansell.

The project may be called 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day, but the aim is to collect 21,000 blankets to celebrate 21 years of democracy in South Africa. These blankets will be displayed at the feet of the Nelson Mandela statue at the Union Buildings in April. The thousands of blankets made around South Africa will then be returned to their provinces of origin to be distributed to those in need before winter sets in.

The number of blankets received at the Durban Handover amounted to an impressive 125 – including single bed and baby blanket sizes.

This is a great project that is well worth supporting. The quality and quantity of the blankets handed in on Sunday is proof that KZN has got both the heart and ability to help meet this challenge. I would like to encourage family, friends, book clubs and coffee Mom groups to become involved. Organise knitathons, sponsor wool or teach people to knit or crochet. It would be wonderful if every family could get involved and support this “good-wool” project.

For more information go to or join the Facebook group 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day (South Africa) – Bev Millar