Today, July 18th 2013 is Nelson Mandela’s birthday; one of the major figures of the last century is turning 95. And on this occasion we should all celebrate in a particular and meaningful way.
Why? Because Nelson Mandela, “Madiba”, has been an example that goes beyond borders and gave 67 years of his life fighting for human rights and equality. As a member of the African National Congress (ANC), he fought against the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
On August 5th 1962, he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964. He was released on February 11th 1990 and, in 1994, became South Africa’s first democratically elected President. He led a reconciliation process within the newly born “rainbow nation”, standing for peace and unity among all South Africans, regardless of their race, gender, religion or cultural identity.
How? Turn today or rather every day into a “Mandela Day”. Five years ago, after his 90th birthday celebration, Mandela declared: “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now.” In November 2009 the United Nations officially proclaimed July 18th as Nelson Mandela International Day. The idea behind it is to simply pick one of the following suggestions and do it for 67 minutes of the day:
– Think of others: Enter a dialogue with people from another culture or read to someone who is not able to do so by him- or herself.
– Help out for good health: Visit old or ill people who have no one to speak to and have a chat and a walk.
– Become an educator: Donate your old computer or help maintain the sports fields.
– Help those living in poverty: Give away the clothes you no longer wear or organize a garage sale for charity.
– Care for the youth: Make time to listen to what the kids have to say and give them good advice.
– Treasure the elderly: Listen to the story of an old person or assist him or her in doing the weekly grocery shopping.
– Look after your environment: Clean up your local park, river, beach, street, town square or sports grounds with friends.
These are only a few proposals. On the official website of the Mandela Day you will find 67 of them. So choose one of them and celebrate the occasion.
Happy 95th birthday, Nelson Mandela!