“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” Nelson Mandela
The Nelson Mandela International Day (NMID) was launched to commemorate and celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday on July 18 of every year. NMID was ratified in 2009 via a decision of the UN General Assembly. It was inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made a year earlier, for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that “it is in your hands now”.
It is more than a celebration of Madiba’s life and legacy. It is a global movement to honor his life’s work and act to change the world for the better. Mandela endured 27 years of miserable conditions in jail. As the founding President of post-apartheid South Africa, he represents triumph of the struggle for freedom and justice. While he will always be remembered for facilitating a peaceful transition from the apartheid regime to a democratic South Africa, he has become the symbol of bravery, modesty, truthfulness, hopefulness, and respect for equality of life.
What can the world learn from him? One of the many lessons is about the power of forgiveness as well as reconciliation, including those who unfortunately refused to acknowledge the abuses and suffering caused by the apartheid system. We also ought to learn from Mandela about the value and power of persistence, principled leadership, and personal sacrifices for the common good of a society. Mandela only started the journey to rebuild a peaceful, democratic, and just society during his four-year Presidency; however, there are miles to go before his dreams are fully realized.
Today, South Africa still witnesses prevalent poverty, inequality, and suffering. Similarly there is progress and supporting efforts to overcome poverty and violence all over the world.
Every year, on Mandela Day, people around the world are asked by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to do just that. By devoting 67 minutes of their time – one minute for every year of Mr. Mandela’s public service – people can make a small gesture of solidarity with humanity and a step towards a global movement for good.