Mandela Day: it’s in your hands


20 June 2013

The countdown to Nelson Mandela International Day 2013 has begun. Marked across the world on 18 July each year, Mandela Day aims to inspire people to take action to change the world for the better and, in doing so, to build a global movement for good.

On Mandela’s birthday, 18 July – unanimously adopted as Nelson Mandela International Day by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009 – people around the world are challenged to spend at least 67 minutes doing good work in their communities in honour of the 67 years that Mandela gave in service and sacrifice.

The countdown was announced at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Now in its fourth year, Nelson Mandela International Day was inspired by a speech Mandela gave at Hyde Park in London in June 2008, when he deliberately misread his speech to say “it is in your hands now” instead of the prepared “it’s in our hands”.

Recalling that moment on Wednesday, Achmat Dangor, the outgoing CEO of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, said Mandela, “as was his way, would read the speech written for him and then set it aside.

“Addressing 50 000 people gathered at the park and a television audience of millions, Madiba started changing the words of his speech. Instead of saying ‘doing good for people’, he changed it to ‘people doing good’. He changed the slogan ‘it’s in our hands’, saying to the world ‘it’s in your hands’.”

When asked later whether he had made a mistake, Mandela said had given the world a message: it was time for the next generation to take responsibility.

Also speaking at Wednesday’s event, Mandela’s great-grandson, Luvuyo Mandela, quoted from Mandela’s book Conversations with Myself, saying that “a readiness to serve others” was required to inspire a global movement for good.

Department of International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said that fellow Rivonia Triallist Andrew Mlangeni, who was sentenced to life imprisonment along with Mandela and six others on 12 June 1964, would address a special UN session to mark Mandela Day.

“Mandela is the only global citizen that has had the honour of his birthday being marked by the UN General Assembly,” Monyela noted.

Yusuf Abramjee, chairperson of LeadSA, once again pledged his support for Mandela Day, saying his organisation’s focus this year would be on improving facilities at a school in Johannesburg.

“Bertrams Junior Primary School has been identified as a school that is in need,” Abramjee said. “We will be going out in full force to see how we can improve standards at the school and bring joy to the learners there.”

Kamu Kekana, the newly appointed head of Cheesekids for Humanity, said that Cheesekids offered a platform for people to engage with Mandela Day. “Cheesekids opens the doors to different programmes so you can choose where to volunteer your time and money and help a stranger.”

Kaya FM’s Greg Maloka announced a 67-kilometre relay toraise money for a container library for a school, inspired by Mandela’s passing on the baton to future generations. “The relay will take place on 14 July at the Polo fields at Waterfall Estate. We invite corporates and runners to join us as groups of 10 tackle 67 kilometres together,” he said.

5fm radio DJ Gareth Cliff described Mandela Day as a positive nexus for people to gather around, a place where people could do good in concert with each other.

“Use social media, radio and TV to spread the good news and share how you are getting involved,” Cliff said. “Mandela Day is an international occasion where South Africa can lead.”

SAinfo reporter and Nelson Mandela International Day