Why do we celebrate Nelson Mandela Day?

Why do we celebrate Nelson Mandela Day?

We celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day every year to shine light on the legacy of a man who changed the 20th century and helped shape the 21st. This is a moment for all to renew the values that inspired Nelson Mandela. Absolute determination. 

Mr Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994. As a champion of reconciliation, he was instrumental in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up by South Africa’s Government of National Unity to help deal with the atrocities of apartheid.

Before his presidency, Mandela was heavily involved in anti-apartheid activities. He served 27 years in prison, many of which were spent with other sentenced freedom fighters.

While officially retired, he continued to voice his opinion on topical humanitarian issues and campaigns globally for peace, children, and the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Government calls on all South Africans to contribute to the social and economic security of Africans by living the values of the Constitution that provides for the rights of all people living in the country and affirm democratic values of human dignity, equality, and freedom for all.

July 18 has been declared Nelson Mandela International Day, but South Africans embrace the chance to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life for the whole of July. This gives everyone the opportunity to heed the call to action for people to recognize their individual power to make an imprint and change the world around them.

A deep commitment to justice, human rights and fundamental freedoms. 
A profound belief in the equality and dignity of every woman and man. 
A relentless engagement for dialogue and solidarity across all lines and divisions. 

Mr Mandela was a great statesman, a fierce advocate for equality, the founding father of peace in South Africa.

In times of turbulence, Mr Mandela showed us the power of resisting oppression, of justice over inequality, of dignity over humiliation, of forgiveness over hatred. 

As the world takes forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and strives to overcome new sources of adversity, let us recall the lessons of Nelson Mandela’s life, and the essential humanism that guided him: “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.”

A UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and 1991 Laureate of the Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, Nelson Mandela’s legacy resonates with the mission of UNESCO, to empower all women and men on the basis of their equal rights and dignity, to promote dialogue and solidarity for justice and lasting peace. This action, this spirit has never been so important.

This year, the Nelson Mandela Foundation is focusing its Mandela Day efforts on education and food and nutrition.

A global movement for positive change begins with small actions. As each person acts, they fuel momentum toward positive change, raising awareness and expanding the reach of Mr Mandela’s values – fighting injustice, helping people in need and practicing reconciliation. 

Nelson Mandela Day Goals 2019-2029:

•    Education and Literacy
•    Food and Nutrition
•    Shelter
•    Sanitation
•    Active Citizenship