Nelson Mandela International Day: Celebrating a Legacy of Peace and Justice

Nelson Mandela International Day, or Mandela Day, is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa and a global icon of human rights, democracy and reconciliation. The day is celebrated each year on 18 July, Mandela’s birthday, to commemorate his life and achievements, and to inspire people to take action to change the world for the better.

Mandela Day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on 18 July 2010. The UN resolution recognizes Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity in various fields, such as conflict resolution, race relations, promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, the fight against poverty and the promotion of social justice.

Mandela Day is a celebration of a great statesman and a fierce advocate for equality and a call to action for everyone to make a difference in their communities. The day invites people to devote 67 minutes of their time – one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service – to help others and contribute to a global movement for good.

“It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all.”

Nelson Mandela

How people can participate in Mandela Day?

Some of the ways that people can participate in Mandela Day are:

  • Volunteering at a local charity, school, hospital or community centre
  • Donating food, clothes, books or other items to those in need
  • Cleaning up a park, beach or neighbourhood
  • Planting trees or flowers
  • Tutoring or mentoring a child or a young person
  • Signing a petition or joining a campaign for a cause that matters to you
  • Learning more about Mandela’s life and legacy and sharing it with others

Mandela Day is also an occasion to reflect on the values that guided Mandela throughout his life and his struggle against apartheid, such as courage, compassion, forgiveness, humility and respect. These values are essential for building a culture of peace and harmony in a world that faces many challenges and conflicts.

One of the organizations that work closely with the UN to promote Mandela Day is UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. UNESCO shares Mandela’s vision of a world where everyone can enjoy their human rights and dignity, and where diversity is celebrated as a source of strength and richness. UNESCO also supports education, science and culture as key drivers for sustainable development and social transformation.

How UNESCO has honored Mandel?

UNESCO has honored Mandela in various ways, such as:

  • Awarding him the Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize in 1991 for his contribution to peace and democracy in South Africa
  • Appointing him as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 2005 for his role as an international peacemaker
  • Naming the revised United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners as the “Nelson Mandela Rules” in 2015 to acknowledge his experience as a prisoner of conscience and his advocacy for humane conditions of imprisonment
  • Published articles and special issues on Mandela’s life and legacy in The UNESCO Courier, the only journal that Mandela read on Robben Island where he was imprisoned for 18 years
  • Organizing events, exhibitions, conferences and workshops on Mandela’s themes and messages around the world

Nelson Mandela International Day famous quotes:

As we celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day this year, let us remember some of his famous quotes:

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

“Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.”

“A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.”

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”

“I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.”

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

“Many people in this country have paid the price before me and many will pay the price after me.”

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

“Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.”

“It is in the character of growth that we should learn from both pleasant and unpleasant experiences.”

“It is not our diversity which divides us; it is not our ethnicity, or religion or culture that divides us. Since we have achieved our freedom, there can only be one division amongst us: between those who cherish democracy and those who do not.”

“A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favour.”

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