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Monday, June 12, 2023



(Above: The stretch of over 1000 blankets)

Dr Ismail Mahomed, director for the Centre of Creative Arts at the University of KZN relates his experience on Saturday attending the 67 Blankets KZN Reveal Day. (Courtesy of Dr Mahomed and Facebook)


Durban was wrapped in a magnificent blanket of love when one of South Africa’s most dynamic philanthropy projects, 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day (South Africa), made a pitstop at the Holy Family College Durban during its national roadshow.

(Left: Dame Carolyn Steyn, Dr Ismail Mahomed & Mrs Ursula Collings, Principal of Holy Family college)

The project founded nine years ago and led with absolute passion by the remarkable Dame Carolyn Steyn has become a global movement in which people of almost every demographic handknit a blanket; and which blankets are then donated to those who are less fortunate. The project was founded to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s incredible legacy of compassion.

The philanthropic project founded and led by Carolyn Steyn has broken several Guinness Records by weaving together the largest handmade blankets. 

Whilst the philanthropic project has an extensively large public face its greatest strength and integrity is that it does not turn its beneficiaries into poverty porn. It dignifies its beneficiaries by honouring their privacy. Blankets are distributed across the length and breadth of South Africa courtesy of Stuttaford Van Lines.

Today’s showcase of hand knitted blankets was a magical experience. Close to two thousand hand knitted blankets were laid out on the sports ground of the Holy Family College. The educational institution has one of the most spectacular views overlooking the Durban Harbour.

(Right: Caroline Smart, Bridget van Oerle, Annie Grealy & Dr Ismail Mahomed)

The cultural programme featured several local youth projects. The programme was curated and presented by Durban’s cultural stalwarts — the EThekwini Living Legend 2012 Caroline Smart, events organiser and impresario Barry Meehan and ASSITEJ youth projects co-ordinator Pauline Dalais.

Close to a hundred individuals, organisations, educational institutions and local businesses joined hands to make this morning’s event a success. Whilst the two thousand blankets made by KZN Knitwits was the centre-piece of today’s event, at the heart of the event was the vibrant heartbeat of a community that was woven together by this project for common purpose to keep the legacy of Nelson Mandela alive and to support those less fortunate.

Amongst Carolyn’s delegation to Durban was Bridget Van Oerle, Jaco Lötter, Annie Robinson Grealy and Timothy Moloi. Amongst some of the locals whom I was pleased to see at the event was Raymond Perrier, the Director of the Denis Hurley Centre in Durban. The Centre loaned its stage for the event. The ever-charming jazz artist Thulile Zama compered the event. Durban publicist and ace networker Illa Thompson and Centre for Creative Arts former Emerging Arts Manager Khethiwe Njikija were amongst the hundreds of Durban folks who were at the Roadshow this morning.


(Left: Pauline Dalais, praise poet Amahle Dumakude, Carolyn Steyn and djembe player Talent Khanyile)

It was wonderful to learn that the entire Holy Family College put its weight behind today’s roadshow — the School Board, the Parent Teachers Association, the teachers, the school’s support staff and its learners. When an entire school team can work collaboratively with common purpose it is a microcosm of what can be achieved when an entire community also joins hands with common purpose. The headmistress is a young dynamic woman, Mrs Ursula Collings. This is leadership!

Carolyn Steyn was as remarkable as ever. What is most amazing about Carolyn Steyn is that every single person who enters her space feels her aura of love and compassion. Irrespective of rank or demographic, Carolyn gives each person her warm smile, her comforting embrace and her hugely generous positive energy.

Today’s roadshow was so much more than just showcasing a sea of blankets made with love. It was about inspiring community. It was about reinvigorating the deep sense of compassion and humanity that resides in each of us. It was about reminding us that even amidst the gloomy cloud that hangs in our political chambers the power to knit our nation together rests in how we all join our hands for common purpose and weave a blanket of hope together.

When the 67 Blankets for Mandela makes a pitstop during its national roadshow in your town make a point of joining the celebrations. And if you are like me and cannot knit, take along a few bales of wool to donate to the project because somebody in some old age home, orphanage, prison, school or hospital will turn your bales of wool into a magical blanket of beauty and love. – Ismail Mahomed


For more information on 67 Blankets visit the Facebook Page –

67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day (South Africa)