A group of 16 gogos from Ikamva Labantu Seniors Club in Gugulethu, Cape Town had the thrill of their lives on August 17 when they went to watch a Currie Cup rugby game between Western Province and the Blue Bulls at Newlands Stadium.

The game, a first for the gogos whose seniors club is part of the Relate’s social upliftment business model, came about as a result of their having won the Relate Bead-Off 2014 against the Western Province rugby players a month earlier.

To celebrate Mandela Day Relate organised a Bead-Off at Ikamva Labantu Noluthando 1 Senior Club. Four Western Province rugby players bravely faced Relate’s gogo’s in a beading competition to see who could thread the longest string as part of their 67 minutes for Mandela Day.

Nozolile Mjodo (67) was the overall winner of the competition having beaded 4.2 m of string against rugby player Juan de Jongh’s 1.7 m string. Mjodo said the biggest thrill of the day for her was mingling with all the different races at the rugby game and that the experience helped her live the Mandela dream which was the breaking down of racial barriers in South Africa.

Another of the gogos, Nora Venge (60) spoke on behalf of her senior club members and fellow Bead-Off winners saying the whole group had been so excited by the invitation to the rugby game that they had hardly slept the night before.

Most of the 200-odd seniors who thread for Relate are elderly men and women who are living on government pensions but support entire families – in numerous cases raising their grandchildren alone. Every single Relate bracelet carries a signature ‘R’ bead which is a symbol of their 100% commitment to transparency and accountability. The bracelets provide the bracelet makers with extra income and give them an opportunity to get together with other elders in their community to talk, laugh and make connections.

The Relate Bead-Off 2014 gave the WP Rugby players the opportunity to honour our elders for Mandela Day. In turn the gogos supported the Western Province team in person with flags held high for the winning team.