Mandela Day 2014: it’s in our hands now

The 2014 Nelson Mandela Day International Day campaign was officially launched in Johannesburg in April . Celebrated across the globe in honour of the late statesman’s birthday on 18 July, the day gives everyone the opportunity to emulate Mandela’s role as public servant.

“Mandela Day is not only about doing good, it is about service,” Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang said at the launch event. “It is an opportunity to build upon Mr Mandela’s lifelong belief that we must live to serve every day, in whatever we do.”

This year’s Mandela Day will be particularly symbolic in that it offers South Africans, and the world, an occasion to honour the ethos of the late Mr Mandela in the year that marks South Africa’s 20th year of democracy.

Professor Njabulo Ndebele, the foundation’s chairperson, said South Africa should use the event to “position itself as a shining example of what can happen when people come together to address social injustices and do good”.

Mandela Day, the foundation said in a statement, creates an opportunity for society’s “haves” and “have nots” to work together to confront social ills within their communities and to build a better world.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, also speaking at the launch event, said: “Nelson Mandela fought for social justice for 67 years of his life. It is not too much to ask that we devote 67 minutes of each day in each year to honour his lifelong legacy. This is a day that inspires all of humanity and reminds us of our public service to each other.”

Mandela’s passing away in December was “all the more reason we have to up the ante, ensuring that this day is imbued with durable meaning that reverberates across time and space,” Motlanthe said.

“In 2014, let us all support the Nelson Mandela International Day campaign, mindful of both the global contexts and the contexts of our own communities. This is not only about doing good; it is about building the cultures that will make a difference in the world.”

The idea of Mandela Day was inspired by Mandela at his 90th birthday celebrations in London’s Hyde Park in 2008, when he said: “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now.”

The United Nations officially declared 18 July as Nelson Mandela International Day in November 2009, recognising Mandela’s “values and his dedication to the service of humanity” and acknowledging his contribution “to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world”.

The Mandela Day campaign asks that individuals, groups and corporates pledge 67 minutes of their time on 18 July, and every day thereafter, to give back. This can be by supporting a charity or serving the community. No matter how small the action, the aim is to change the world for the better – just as Mandela did.

SAinfo reporter