ORIGINS OF MANDELA DAY
by Dumisani Jali - Chief Education Officer (In-House)
Nelson Mandela International Day, also known as Mandela Day, is celebrated on July 18 each year. The day remembers Mandela’s achievements in working towards conflict resolution, democracy, human rights, peace, and reconciliation.
Mandela Day was created to inspire people to embrace the values of democracy and contribute towards the ideals of ensuring a just and fair society.
President Jacob Zuma first introduced the concept of Nelson Mandela Day in 2009, to motivate a nationwide campaign to get the public involved in charitable activities.
In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly paid tribute to Mandela by adopting a resolution to make the international community aware of his humanitarian work.
The Mandela Day Campaign message encourages people to use 67 minutes of their time to support a chosen charity or serve in their local community. The 67 minutes symbolically represent the number of years the former President fought for human rights and the abolition of apartheid.
Mandela Day is a call for action for individuals – for people everywhere – to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place, one small step at a time, just as Mr Mandela did.
This day recognises the icon’s leading role in and support for Africa's struggle for liberation and unity, and his outstanding contribution to the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist democratic South Africa.
Government calls on all South Africans to contribute to the social and economic security of Africans, by living the values of our Constitution that provides for the rights of all people living in our country and the affirms democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom for all.
HOW IS IT CELEBRATED?
Nelson Mandela Day not only celebrates Nelson Mandela’s life, but it is also a global call to action for people to recognize their ability to have a positive effect on others around them. The day hopes to inspire people to embrace the values that Mandela shared. These values include democracy, freedom, equality, diversity, reconciliation, and respect.
Many people and organizations around the world take part in many activities to promote Nelson Mandela Day. These activities include volunteering, sport, art, education, music, and culture. Various events are also held on or around July 18 to honour Nelson Mandela’s works and to promote the different projects that were inspired by Mandela’s achievements.
Mandela Day also celebrates a campaign known as “46664”, in reference to Nelson Mandela’s Robben Island prison number. The campaign was originally launched to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. However, its focus expanded to broader humanitarian work. The efforts from Mandela Day support the campaign’s ongoing work and other Nelson Mandela charitable organizations.
In 2020, the essence of Mandela Day – Take action, inspire change, and make every day a Mandela Day – is more important than ever before. Communities across the world are affected by the spread of Covid-19, which has hit every economy, causing new social and economic challenges and exacerbating old ones. But, there is hope. On a scale never seen before, individuals and groups are finding ways to help those in need of support. KwaZulu-Natal Museum hereby makes a call to every South African to be an active citizen in their communities, individually or as part of one of the millions of groups getting together to start initiatives around delivering food parcels, making masks and protective gear, teaching online or making donations towards these efforts. In this light, the Museum has identified S.O.S. Children’s Village in Pietermaritzburg to support during Mandela Day 2020. The Village supports orphaned, vulnerable children and fragmented families with home, safety, education and health care.
Mandela Day is celebrated on 18 July every year. In 2020, it will be the day we share the successes we have achieved and the lessons we have learned as we battle this pandemic, and its effect on those less fortunate than ourselves.
And, most of all, stay safe.