Last week was Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday; July 18, 1918. Sadly this year, it’s a day in which he is clinging to life. But a day in which people the world over are encouraged to give back. A day to take 67 minutes of their day to give back, to make a difference, to bring people together and raise awareness for those around them. A day called Nelson Mandela Day!
Nelson Mandela Day is a call to action! A call for people to recognize that they can have a positive influence on others around them and their communities and to act in a positive way. A day to inspire people to look at Former President Mandela’s life and share the values he held dear; values such as freedom, equality, democracy, diversity, respect and reconciliation. A day in which people around the world to take part in various activities such as volunteering projects, sports, education, music, art and culture.
Although not a public holiday but a global observance, Nelson Mandela Day is a day that honors the 67 years that Nelson Mandela served his country. A day recognized by the United Nations General Assembly to mark the contributions to peace through his active involvement in resolving conflicts, promoting human rights, international democracy and reconciliation and addressing racial issues.
Events took place in the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and new to observe this year, India. "On the occasion of the Nelson Mandela International Day, I compliment all member states of the United Nations for celebrating the values that Nelson Mandela has dedicated his life to," Ambassador Asoke Kumar Mukerji, Permanent Representative of India read Singh's message to UN during a special event of the UN General Assembly here.
South Africa’s ambassador to the US, Ebrahim Rasool, said “activities in the 18 US cities, like Minneapolis and Boston, were purposefully injected with a joyous spirit in light of Madiba’s (a nickname given to Mandela by his clan) ailing health”. A day in which we celebrate and honor an example of optimism, sacrifice and hope that is Mandela’s life. Mr Rasool said that Madiba’s example was needed now more than ever: "I think we are readier to heed it today than we perhaps were two decades ago." How does Nelson Mandela speak to us, is the question that should be asked, he said.
It is an answer that more Americans seem ready to explore too. Congresswoman Karen Bass has reported lots of interest in what people can do for their 67 minutes. Rasool has indicated that they have been able to get an indication of the amount of people planning to participate in activities by the size of the venue needed.
The awareness of Nelson Mandela Day is gaining. It must be as I had never heard of it before and only wish I knew before hand so that I could have participated. So I could have given 67 minutes last week to do something and be a part of something global. “But why wait until the next Nelson Mandela day, why not do something now”, I asked myself. There are many organizations that need volunteers, organization such as your Girl Scouts or the United Way.
Don’t know where to begin, check out VolunteerMatch.org. Volunteer Match will match you with an organization so you can do the things you care about. Don’t wait until next year, start today! I am.