TODAY, the 18th of July is Mandela Day. It’s Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s birthday. This day is internationally–acclaimed and observed annually, the world over. On this auspicious day, the world remembers the 27 years that Nelson Mandela spent under apartheid incarceration, a feat that later made him a global peace icon. Everywhere both within and without South Africa, people are expected to devote 67 minutes to a community activity.
“It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it,” Nelson Mandela once famously said. Every day must, therefore, be Mandela Day as we all do our part, no matter how small, to make our communities and our world a better place for future generations and even for us.
Nelson Mandela was emphatic about what things to call important in life. As he succinctly put it, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
The United Nations (UN) inaugurated the day at Mandela’s 90thbirthday celebrations held in London in 2009. The protocol was inspired by Mandela’s words, “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now”. Thus Mandela Day has become a global movement working for the betterment of the world. On this day, the world honours Nelson Mandela for the incredible sacrifices he made for his country, for freedom and for peace.
Yesterday, South Africa’s Cricket team, The Proteas, celebrated their Mandela Day by spending some time with terminally-ill children from Chittagong in Bangladesh. Cricket SA (CSA) paid a visit to Seotlana Primary School in the Gauteng township of Tembisa on Friday where they did acts of kindness in commemoration of Mandela Day. CSA renovated the school library and cleaned up the premises, among other things, in their 67 minutes of community work. They were joined by staff and volunteers from Momentum and some Protea players.
Graca Machel, Mandela’s widow, yesterday spent 67 minutes of her time volunteering with the Stop Hunger Now campaign in Sandton, packing about 1 million meals for the hungry.
Archbishop Tutu’s family spent their day before Mandela Day handing out food in the patients’ wards at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.
The world’s problems and ailments are too huge to be solved in 67 minutes or be cured in 67 minutes, but, if each and every one does their part in carrying on the legacy of Ntate Madiba, such acts could mean the difference between a terminal illness and a minor ailment. Some people visit orphanages, hospitals, old people’s homes, do some voluntary work or give donations while others make soup for those living in the streets. Similarly, some people visit elderly couples in their community, or just pay their parents a visit and take time just to sit down and listen to them or keep them company. Others read books to young children. There is a lot that can be done on Mandela Day, I myself have not yet decided on what to do, but will surely do my bit as a citizen of the world and a caring member of humanity.
What are you doing this Mandela Day?
Send your stories to email@example.com