Samsung Africa restores Mandela family heritage site in Qunu as a space for growth and development
Representatives from the Mandela family and Samsung employees gather to celebrate opening of a new church, community centre and solar-powered internet school
14 November 2011 Qunu, Mthatha, Eastern Cape - Today, President and CEO of Samsung Electronics Africa, Mr. KK Park, handed over a certificate of project completion to the Nelson Mandela family in Qunu, Mthatha, Eastern Cape for the restoration of a historic landmark in the community; a Methodist church, now established as a National Heritage site to honour the memories of Mr. Mandela's mother, Mrs. Nosekeni Mandela, along with several other women in the Qunu village. To meet the practical needs for a new community space, a multi-purpose community centre has also been built by Samsung Africa alongside the church.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place today in the midst of other community projects Samsung is currently completing in Qunu, including its Employee Volunteer Programme and the establishment of a recently-launched, world-first mobile Solar-Powered Internet School.
“The long walk to freedom continues in Qunu,” said Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, on behalf of the Mandela family. “By contributing to the preservation of this important landmark in my grandfather’s development, Samsung is not only restoring a church and consolidating a family legacy, but is also contributing to the restoration of hope and dignity in the village.”
Intended for use by the community to worship, learn and gather, the restoration project is part of Samsung’s vision to provide for the practical needs of communities on the continent.
“Part of our vision in Africa includes the development of young African thought-leaders to continue our legacy of innovation on the continent for years to come. But people can’t develop to reach their full potential unless they have the right tools and an appropriate environment in which to learn,” comments Park. “By creating spaces for the people of Qunu to grow and develop, we hope to foster the unique strengths and resourcefulness of people within the community to create new opportunities.”
Guests were also invited to tour the recently launched world-first mobile Solar Powered Internet School, which has been brought down to Qunu to for its first mission as a functioning learning and teaching environment, with the aim to scale up production of the schools thereafter. Each exclusively solar-powered and completely independent classroom is built in a 12 metre-long trucking container for easy transportation to remote areas. The schools, which are aimed at increasing accessibility to education and connectivity across Africa, are built for energy scarce environments and harsh weather conditions.
Says Park, “We saw the need for world class technology to enable quality education in the remotest areas in Africa, so we found a way to bring this to these communities and overcome the obstacle of limited or no access to electricity. The solar panels generate enough power for the school to be used beyond the traditional school day as an adult education centre in the afternoons, or a community centre over weekends.”
The solar-powered internet school model envisions a future classroom where a teacher and students interface one another through online electronic boards and tablet or notebook PC’s, which replace virtually all textbooks and paper-based teaching materials. It is also a showcase of various electronic devices equipped for a classroom which can run efficiently by solar power because of extreme energy saving technology.
Today’s ceremony also coincided with Samsung’s Employee Volunteer Programme, which is now being conducted in Qunu, after being carried out in Ghana, Ethiopia, DRC and Zambia earlier this year. The programme consists of a variety of projects carried out by Samsung employees and resources to meet the practical needs of the community. They include setting up medical camps to provide free basic medical screening and treatment and improve hygiene to prevent the spread of treatable diseases; the restoration of community spaces including painting of schools, planting trees and building new toilets; computing training and cultural exchange activities for children in the community.
Samsung has expanded its presence in Africa from 15 to 42 offices in the last year alone, and has set an equally ambitious goal for its corporate social responsibility (CSR) on the continent: to positively impact 5 million lives by 2015. The company believes that this can be achieved through connecting its CSR initiatives with its history and core business.
Notes Park, “We have launched several initiatives geared at providing opportunities through education, including the Samsung Electronics Engineering Academy, Samsung Mobile Education and the latest, Solar-Powered Internet Schools model. A core part of achieving our education goals is providing the right kind of environment in which people can learn and develop – and sometimes this can be as simple as providing a sheltered structure for communities to use for meetings, recreation, and education.”