It is that time again folks, the 18th of July is the late former president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s birthday; this date was declared Nelson Mandela International Day by the United Nations in November 2009. And in so doing, the UN has recognised Mandela’s values and his dedication to service of humanity and promotion of world peace.
Year after year, South Africa and the world celebrate Nelson Mandela month and 67 minutes for Mandela. These initiatives are dedicated to honouring uTata’s life and deeds through individual power to make a change in the world around us.
The ideology behind this is to build a global movement for positive change, raising awareness and promoting Mandela’s values – fighting injustice and practicing reconciliation.
But what can one do to commemorate the ideas of this visionary on this day?
A good place to start is at the fast growing Mandela Day Marathon. The marathon is run from Pietermaritzburg to Howick in KwaZulu-Natal. The number of participants has grown exponentially since its inception in 2012, from 1500 to 5500 in 2013. A good way to get fit, meet new people and celebrate Madiba’s legacy.
If you’re not much of a sportsperson you could simply donate blood. The South African National Blood Service has urged South Africans to donate blood on Mandela Day as part of their “Time to Serve” campaign. Spokesperson Vanessa Raju says the best way to live the Mandela legacy is to help save a life, and I guess it should be fairly rewarding to take time out of your life to save another.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has also empowered many South Africans to go out to local townships in a work effort to help those in need. One can help at orphanages, old age homes or simply by cleaning up the environment amongst other things.
Another initiative that has been making waves is Caring4Girls, where one can donate sanitary towels to underprivileged girls. One can help raise funds for these girls by donations which can be done online at www.imbumbafoundation.org/donate/
If you find yourself done with all these activities and you feel like taking a break, you could go watch Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom. This epic biopic will be screened for free throughout July. This will mark the Mandela Month celebrations and will also serve as a treat for all South Africans.
www.mandeladay.com is fantastic website that offers information about volunteer opportunities for taking action and inspiring change, one may visit this site to get access to dates, venues and times to do better for South Africa.
These are only a handful of things that can be done to celebrate this awesome leader’s memory and legacy. All these acts of humility also need to be promoted outside of Madiba Month and 67 Minutes for Madiba. As South Africans we need to have Madiba’s ideals of peace, reconciliation and equality run through from the smallest of children to the elderly of citizens in this country.
I feel many companies use this month to make profits in the name of “campaigning for Madiba” and many people become desensitised from doing good because of this. The time for apathy is long gone, the time for racism is phasing out of the present and into history, it’s time we completely closed that chapter and move onto more of a utopian one.
Let us pay it forward by advocating for this visionary’s ideals and celebrate his memory by doing good for others.
Like the great Madiba said: “It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all”
Happy Nelson Mandela Month!