– by Nkosingiphile Ntshangase
On the 18th of July every year since 2010, we have celebrated ‘Mandela Day’, an international day of honour to Nelson Mandela declared by the United Nations in November 2009. The sole purpose of this day is to pay homage to the former President’s impact and commitment to the preservation of human rights and the building of a rainbow nation. Everyone has the ability and the responsibility to change the world for the better and we use this day to take time out of our busy lives to display acts of kindness and make a difference in our communities.
This is a call on all South Africans to act on their social and moral responsibility by contributing to the security of their fellow citizens especially during these challenging times brought upon us by COVID-19. This can be achieved by upholding the values of our Constitution that affirms the democratic values and fundamental rights of human dignity, equality, and freedom. We all have the power to leave our footprints in history and make an impact, knowing that you have left something behind in the lives you have touched. This year’s theme for Mandela Day is ‘Take action, inspire change, and make every day a Mandela Day’. In the words of the great man himself, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others”.
Here are some examples of what you can do:
- Organise a neighbourhood clean-up armed with plastic gloves and black bags
- Make ‘care kits’ (including a comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, face cloth, etc. ) for patients at a nearby government hospital
- Offer to mow the lawn and fix up the garden at a nursing home or hospice
- Donate blood
- Set up a recycling system for your home
- Knit a blanket for someone in need
“This month we are blessed to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday but at a most difficult time of crisis. Every year we re-commit to live and work by the principles to which Nelson Mandela devoted his life, and to make every month Mandela month, by volunteering our services to do something for the community or those less fortunate – for the common good of humanity. Our fallibility as human beings has been laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic; we have responded by helping one another in many unplanned ways, and by behaving in a manner that underlies our deep-rooted values as a company, supporting all of our stakeholders, including our clients, suppliers, and colleagues. We are immensely grateful for the leadership compass and legacy bequeathed to our leaders by Nelson Mandela, which serves us all so well at the current time of crisis.”, says Mr. Simon Tankard, CEO at UKZN Extended Learning.
At UEL, we have always partaken in honouring Mandela Day. However, with the National Lockdown and the constraints imposed on us, presents an opportunity to reflect deeply on the real meaning of sacrifice for something we believe in and which serves a common purpose. Mandela’s legacy should remind you to be thankful for what you have and to serve your fellow South Africans and the country with humility, commitment, and hope.