CRANBOURNE students have honoured Nelson Mandela’s legacy and heard from the singer he dubbed South Africa’s princess.

Rangebank Primary School principal Colin Avery said South African United Nations ambassador Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s songs kept Nelson Mandela’s spirits up while he was in prison for 27 years.

She helped the school celebrate Nelson Mandela Day on July 18, alongside South African High Commissioner Koleka Mqulwana and charitable trust DOST’s founding directors Arun Sharma and Jaya Sharma.

The CEO of International AIDS Conference organiser RESULTS, Maree Nutt, was also there, just hours after learning many conference delegates were on board flight MH17.

Ms Chaka Chaka, who was also in Melbourne to attend the AIDS conference, told students Nelson Mandela “gave her back her dignity”.

“She said that every year on this day, we could honour Nelson Mandela by giving 67 minutes back to the community,” Mr Avery said.

“The duration symbolises the 67 years that the late Nelson Mandela spent fighting for social justice.”

Ms Mqulwana presented blankets to the school and lollies to each child, and DOST donated two bicycles and a cheque for $500 to support the Rangebank breakfast club.

The guests planted a protea tree and left hand prints on the school’s back fence, now dubbed a Freedom Fence.

“They learnt more about Nelson Mandela from two people who knew him personally,” Mr Avery said.

“The students learnt about forgiveness and non-violence as a way to solve problems.

“They learnt that we should have respect for each other, no matter our different skin colour, religion or gender.”

The school plans to devote 67 minutes to working in the community each 18 July.

Published in the Cranbourne Leader on July 24, 2014.