Nelson Mandela International Day launched


Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Tuesday officially launched the Nelson Mandela International Day Campaign 2014 at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Houghton.

Celebrated across the globe in honour of the late Mandela’s birthday on July 18, Mandela Day was formally recognised by the UN General Assembly in 2009, and today represents an international call to contribute to the global movement for good by effecting positive change within communities.

Ultimately, the day seeks to empower communities everywhere through the slogan ‘Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day’.

Speaking at the launch, Deputy President Motlanthe said this year’s Mandela Day was unique because Mandela had passed last year.

“This is 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.

“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 about doing good; it is about building the cultures that will make a difference in the world.”

The Deputy President said the day should be used to eradicate poverty and should inspire everyone to be a public servant of the people.

“This is the day that inspires all humanity to honour Mandela,” he said, adding that it unites the haves and have-nots to work together to build a better world.

“It promotes a broader ethic of service. It tells us all in whatever societal spacing or sector we are in, that we find liberation for ourselves not only as we take responsibility for the liberation of others.”

The Deputy President, who is retiring from government this year, said the day should be a reminder of public service obligations.

“It tells those who work in government that they should see themselves as public servants, rather than as government officials.”

Mandela’s long-time friends, including Ahmed Kathrada, and some of his family members including Mandla Mandela — who recently gathered at his ancestral home in Qunu for a traditional ritual to mark the end of their mourning period — were also present at the launch.

Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory Board of Trustees chairperson, Njabulo Ndebele, said: “We give thanks to Mandela’s life and devotion to humanity. We can look to Mandela as an inspiration for a better world.”

Ndebele said this year’s Mandela International Day was significant, especially as the country marks 20 years of freedom.

His legacy has allowed the country to have a common future. The day has the power to unite a divided nation, Ndebele said.

His words were reiterated by the CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Sello Hatang, who said the day should not only be about doing good, but that it should be about serving the people – like Mandela did.

“His passing should not be the end of his legacy. Like he said – ‘it’s in our hands’.”

Mandela, who died in December, was a leader in the anti-apartheid movement and was President of the country from 1994 to 1999.

History behind Mandela Day

The idea of Mandela Day was inspired by Nelson 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 everyday 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 has.

The focus themes for this year are food security, shelter and education.