Mandela Day …

I did not realize that today is Mandela Day, until I was skimming my e-mail late this afternoon and came across this one from the Obama Foundation …


Hi Jill,

Ten years ago today, the world celebrated the first-ever Mandela Day, on Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday. Mandela himself was honored, but he emphasized that the day should not be a holiday to recognize him, but a day devoted to service. “Our struggle for freedom and justice was a collective effort,” he said. “Mandela Day is no different.”

Now, ten years later, I’m asking you to take part in another collective effort—to dedicate your time toward improving your own community.Obama-MandelaNo gesture is too small; no act of service too modest. Whether you donate books to your local library, volunteer at a shelter, or commit to mentoring someone in your neighborhood, every action is a step toward building a more gracious, more generous world. That is the world Mandela himself sought to build.

Earlier this week, the Obama Foundation convened 200 of Africa’s best and brightest young leaders in Mandela’s home country of South Africa to help them sharpen their skills, share their hopes and ideas, and build a network that can help chart the future of the continent. But before they left our Leaders: Africa convening, they gathered together to volunteer at a nearby primary school.

They didn’t sign their names on murals or stand idly by, waiting for recognition—these leaders simply gave their time in service. It’s the kind of example that true leadership demands. And I can think of no one who better defines that spirit of leadership than Madiba himself.

So this Mandela Day, commit some time to making a difference in your community. But don’t do it for yourself or even just to recognize him; do it because it’ll make our world better.


Barack Obama

Mandela-1Nelson Mandela International Day aka Mandela Day, is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, celebrated each year on 18 July, Mandela’s birthday. The day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on 18 July 2010.

The Mandela Day campaign message, according to a statement issued on Mandela’s behalf is:

  • Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes.
  • We would be honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace, reconciliation and cultural diversity.

A little bit about Nelson Mandela.

By the time of his death, within South Africa Mandela was widely considered both “the father of the nation” and “the founding father of democracy”.  Outside of South Africa, he was a global icon, with the scholar of South African studies Rita Barnard describing him as “one of the most revered figures of our time”.

When some attempted to portray Mandela as a modern-day messiah, his response was …

“I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.”

gandhi-king-mandelaHe is often cited alongside Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as one of the 20th century’s exemplary anti-racist and anti-colonial leaders.  Mandela’s international fame had emerged during his incarceration in the 1980s, when he became the world’s most famous prisoner, a symbol of the anti-apartheid cause, and an icon for millions who embraced the ideal of human equality. In 1986, Mandela’s biographer characterized him as “the embodiment of the struggle for liberation” in South Africa.

Mandela generated controversy throughout his career as an activist and politician, having detractors on both the right and the radical left. During the 1980s, Mandela was widely labelled a terrorist by prominent political figures in the Western world for his embrace of political violence. According to the UK’s Margaret Thatcher, for instance, the ANC was “a typical terrorist organisation”. The US government’s State and Defense departments officially designated the African National Congress (ANC) as a terrorist organization, resulting in Mandela remaining on their terrorism watch-list until 2008.

In the words of South African historian/biographer Bill Freund …

“The significance of Mandela can be considered in two related ways. First, he has provided through his personal presence as a benign and honest conviction politician, skilled at exerting power but not obsessed with it to the point of view of excluding principles, a man who struggled to display respect to all … Second, in so doing he was able to be a hero and a symbol to an array of otherwise unlikely mates through his ability, like all brilliant nationalist politicians, to speak to very different audiences effectively at once.”

Mandela-2Like Gandhi, King, and a handful of others, Nelson Mandela left the world a little bit better place than he found it.  This is something few of us will achieve, but that we should all strive for.Mandela Day

42 thoughts on “Mandela Day …

  1. We certainly need more like him. Savid Javid (our UK Home Secretary), said that he will fight extremism in the UK, which includes all forms of racism, sexism and homphobia.

    I like him. I think we need more people like him in the UK. He got kicked off the leadership bid, but it was encouraging to see him rise to fourth place. Nelson Mandela would have been proud of him. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve heard some good things about Savid Javid. I’ve saved the speech to read tomorrow, as it’s already nearly 3:00 and I still have much to do before I can get to bed, but I will definitely read it, for I started it and was interested. Thanks for sending it!


    • Yes, he indeed was. I didn’t know he was friends with Arthur Ashe … and, I don’t know anything about Arthur Ashe other than that he plays tennis, so perhaps I need to do some research!


      • He played tennis many years ago. He had a heart attack and they gave him tinted blood in the operating room and he developed Aids and later died. A remarkable man in many ways — very socially aware and had a lively conscience. Where are those folks today??

        Liked by 1 person

  2. While there is debate in SA whether Mandela deserves all this high praise especially among the black population. But today is not the day for that. Today it is good to remember that this was a way for some people to assuage their guilt and make him a hero. Soon he will be deity. Only man who has a day in his name and is not a religious personage.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I have returned, Jill. I used to be around a few years ago and went AWOL, so thank you. I so get your sentiment. Just two years ago, I was a whole lot less proud of my country. Hopefully we are returning to Mandela’s philosophy and the tenets of the Freedom Charter

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, I am certainly happy that you returned! I’m glad to hear that your country is making strides and that you see improvement, but let me ask you something. I haven’t kept up with what is happening in South Africa (Trump keeps me focused on this side of the pond, unfortunately), so what has changed to bring about your renewed hope? I do hope you’re right and that it is a turnaround for you all.


          • Hi Jill
            What has changed is that on 14 February 2018, Jacob Zuma resigned as president, effectivly ending what has now been described as nine wasted years in our country. It also freed President Ramaphosa to begin uncovering the depths of corruption and state looting that was allowed to happen under Zuma. We have an awful long way to go, but at least the sore is no longer festering and the boil, I hope is beginning to be lanced. With apologies for the mixed metaphors.

            And, as I write we have Trump on one side of the pond, and BoJo on the other. Don’t know where I’d rather be.

            Sometimes I think it’s best to be an ostrich!

            Liked by 1 person

            • I am very pleased by your news! It sounds like you are on the right path anyway, which is not the case for so many countries. I do hope the progress continues! As for your question about which place you’d rather be in, the U.S. with Trump, or the UK with Boris, I’d say neither! Though, being in the U.S., I think I’d rather be on the other side of the pond. For one thing, I suspect Boris won’t last too long, and for another, although he and Trump are as two peas in a pod, I genuinely believe that Trump is the more evil of the two. I think that if we cannot vote him out next year, we will have effectively created a dictatorship in this country. Sigh. Already he has been suggesting that perhaps he will see what can be done to change the Constitution so that he could serve more than two terms, and has been heard to tell people that as president, he can do whatever he wants. He places himself above the law, and that frightens me. Sigh. Some days I think a desert island in the Pacific … no phone, internet, television … just a room filled with books. 😉


  3. A man in whom equality lived, who lived MLK’s I Have A Dream to make it a truth and a man who followed Gandhi’s steps to remove colonialism whilst remaining on good terms with the Colonial Powers.A gentle man but nobody’s fool who always preferred the peaceful path to reach his goal.Such a great man had followers in Countries the World over. We can bring about great changes with little effort on our part.What can we do when we really try?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good question. I think we tend to look at the big picture, at the whole, and it defeats us. We think that the small things we can do are but a drop in the gigantic bucket, so we’re overwhelmed and end up doing nothing. But, a lot of drops eventually fill the bucket … the inspiration of men like King, Gandhi and Mandela help us, maybe inspire or motivate us.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is my job in life not to take anything away from Nelson Mandela, but to remind the world that Mandela would be a nobody without the work done by Bantu Stephen Biko. Biko laid all the groundwork in South Africa, obviously not all by himself, but he was the brains and organization behind the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa. He was assassinated by the SA Secret Police in 1977 at the tender age of 30, but his work lives on. The world needs to remember Stephen Biko.
    I have few true heroes in life. Stephen Biko is at the top of the list.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I would beg to differ. Biko made an incredible contribution, yes. Mandela was able to do so in life after prison and remains an icon. I often wonder how different things might have been had Biko not been killed. I vividly remember the inquest. I followed the reporting in the Daily Despatch. I shall never forget

      Liked by 2 people

      • I was not in South Africa. I am a Metis Canadian male, half white, half aboriginal red. I am basing my understanding on the court transcript of Biko vs the prosecutor in the trial of I believe 10 other leaders in the 70s. We got it in Canada as “Black Consciousness in South Africa.” Seeing as this is supposed to have been actual trial transcripts I have to take it as true, not opinion. Everything I read was the work of a humble genius. All he wanted to do was help black people in South Africa realize their collective personhood, and it sounds like he did a damn good job of that.
        Whatever Mandela did once he was released from Robben Island I am not disputing, though I never did find a good appraisal of what that was. But Biko handed him a black people/nation that was ready to work as a unit, not a bunch of suppressed individuals. Mandela used what he found. Biko created that consciousness. Biko created the weapon that was the people.
        If you know something I do not know, please inform me. I am willing to learn.

        Liked by 2 people

        • There is no disputing Biko’s legacy or the work of the foundation, nor that of Mampele Rhampele. Biko’s approach and philosophy resonate. I think it’s a matter of perspective. Neither is wrong. Just different. I am glad that Biko and his work continues to influence people today especially for folk who, for whatever reason, grapple with their heritage. Be proud that you are First Nation.

          Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not sure I agree that Nelson Mandela would have been a ‘nobody’ without Biko … I think they were both great men and there’s room for many like them in this world. I wish I saw one now, but sadly I cannot think of any. The greatness of one should not detract from the other, though … I’m sure both would be willing to share the spotlight.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We each have our beliefs about things; this is one of mine. But despite what I say or how I say it, the main thing is to not let the world forget Biko. His approach to revolution is the best I have ever seen in history. Barely anyone knew it was a revolution. Apartheid leaders knew something was happening, but it was done so quietly they had no idea their Waterloo was coming.
        Mandela inherited this situation. I am not saying he wasn’t a great man, he was needed to complete the task. Biko is the one who prepared the people, who gave them the belief in themselves that they were free people caught in an abominable situation.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Did you see the comment on this post from Makagutu? I got the feeling from his comment that perhaps Mandela wasn’t as much a hero in South Africa (and he would know, for that is, I believe, where he lives if I remember correctly) as we believe. He said something to the effect that people hailed him as a hero to assuage their guilt?


          • I’ve looked at a few related posts, and it seems a number of people feel very differently about the role Mandela played. Some think he even sold them down the river. I cannot say anything about that. My thing is Biko, and his genius. But in all the posts I read, including those by South Africans, nobody even mentioned him. This does not sit well with me.

            Liked by 1 person

              • The link I added above actually pointed out a number of edifices around the world dedicated to his memory, so it sounds like he is remembered, but not spoken of. A real conundrum.
                I have been doing some added research lately, but I really need the book of the trial of 9 nnti-apartheid leaders but I cannot find a cheap one anywhere yet. I’ll keep searching. And planning…

                Liked by 1 person

                • Good enough! I hear you re the book … I looked for one by Dorothy Thompson, the subject of my p.m. post today, and found single copies in two places … one was $225 and the other was $375. Um, I think not. I will check the Gutenberg Project and see if they have done it, though I doubt they would have. Let me know any time you feel inclined … the door’s always open.


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