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Change the world


The City of Cape Town says 26 of its libraries will participate in the Mandela Day Coding Tournament, as part of this year’s Mandela Day celebrations.

From left: Nelson Mandela University’s professor Jean Greyling, Tasneem Adriaanse of City of Cape Town libraries, and Ricardo Antha and Mario Williams from the Belhar coding community network.

Hosted by Tangible Africa, in partnership with Nelson Mandela University, the tournament will be played on 18 July at the Nelson Mandela Legacy Exhibition at the Cape Town City Hall.

Participants make use of Tangible Africa’s educational coding applications, Tanks and Rangers, which teaches the basics of coding. By downloading a small app, the participants can play Tanks or Rangers offline, using the app and tokens from the game packs.

The city says unplugged coding allows libraries to bring coding to communities that do not have access to expensive resources.

“This form of coding improves the participants’ problem-solving, comprehension and collaboration skills,” says Patricia van der Ross, mayoral committee member for community services and health.

“By the end of the game, when they’ve completed all 35 levels, participants will be able to move on to plugged coding in libraries, using applications such as Scratch, which is currently available on our SmartCape computers.

“The tournament planned for Mandela Day is an exciting prospect, and I want to thank the Nelson Mandela University for this exciting collaboration opportunity for our young people. It is my sincere hope that this initiative will take hold and become a regular feature in all of our libraries over time.”

Professor Jean Greylin, head of the Department of Computing Sciences at Nelson Mandela University, explains that since starting the initiative in 2017, libraries have been a great implementation partner, impacting communities. “We are very grateful to the Cape Town libraries who have taken ownership of the Tangible Africa coding movement.”

One of the examples is the coding club in Belhar, Cape Town, where community members have rallied to grow the club from just two children in January, to having hundreds of participants each month, notes the city.

“It started as a library project at Belhar Library, led by Randall Rousseau, and when he moved to another library, he approached a group of parents with the idea of taking over from him to continue the programme,” says Ricardo Antha, parent and Belhar coding club leader.

“There is always an amazing energy and atmosphere of excitement whenever we get together as a club, from both the parents and youth. It has become a family-friendly activity to participate in over the weekend, where parents can be actively involved in the growth and development of their children.

“The kids and parents enjoy coding so much that they are constantly inviting new people who they believe can benefit from the programme. Coding has now also been introduced to the schools in the area and has been embraced eagerly by the educators.

“Children are more focused all-round on their schoolwork. Kids are starting to think differently, as they are constantly being developed as problem-solvers. They are inspired to dream big again,” he adds.

To find out more about coding in your region, or to participate in the #Coding4Mandela event, contact

Published in ITWeb, Johannesburg, 14 Jun 2023

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