It’s in your hands – Nelson Mandela International Day 2013 launch
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 saw the launch of the fourth Nelson Mandela International Day at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Houghton, Johannesburg.
Unanimously adopted in 2009 by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly as Nelson Mandela International Day, 18 July, Nelson Mandela’s birthday, is an annual call to action to people everywhere to contribute to the global movement for good by effecting change within their community.
“Today represents the beginning of the 2013 march towards 18 July,” said Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, as he welcomed members of the Mandela family, representatives of the UN, representatives of local government, foreign diplomats, partner organisations, celebrities and members of the media.
Achmat Dangor, the outgoing CEO of the Centre, remembered the genesis of Mandela Day.
“It happened in 2008, at the Hyde Park concert in London that celebrated Madiba’s 90th birthday,” he said.
“Madiba, 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 ‘its in our hands’, saying to the world ‘it’s in your hands’.”
When asked later whether he had made a mistake, Mr Mandela reiterated that he was giving the world a message. It was time for the next generation to take responsibility.
Today, the Mandela Day campaign is a global movement for good in Nelson Mandela’s name.
Inspiring a global movement for good
Luvuyo Mandela quoted his great-grandfather with an extract from Mr Mandela’s book, Conversations with Myself.
Highlighting the qualities of those who do good deeds every day – and not just on Mandela Day – Luvuyo reminded the audience that “a readiness to serve others” is what is required to inspire a global movement for good.
UN Resident Co-ordinator Dr Agostino Zacharias spoke about Nelson Mandela’s life, and how it mirrored the work done across the globe by the UN.
“The struggle for humanity and peace, the struggle against discrimination and for equality; he gave his life in order to achieve these noble objectives, and this is also what the UN is about,” he said.
Clayson Monyela, of South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, said:
“Mandela is the only global citizen that has had the honour of his birthday being marked by the UN General Assembly.” He said fellow Rivonia Trialist Andrew Mlangeni, who was sentenced to life imprisonment with Mr Mandela and six others on 12 June 1964, will address the UN session to mark Mandela Day.
Tebogo Ditshego, the founder of Read a Book SA and CEO of Ditshego Media, stressed the importance of promoting reading among the young.
“The single most important indicator of a child’s success is reading for leisure,” he said.
Read a Book SA (or @readabook on Twitter) inspires a love of reading in a digital world, where users share reviews and favourite titles with over 22 000 Twitter followers.
Yusuf Abramjee, Chairperson of Lead SA, once again pledged his support for Mandela Day and said this year his organisation’s focus would be improving facilities at a school in Johannesburg.
“Bertrams Junior Primary School has been identified as a school that is in need. 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,” he said.
Founder of Cheesekids for Humanity, Shaka Sisulu, promoted Cheesekids as a platform where people can interface with the idea of Mandela Day.
“Part of the work we do is getting people together to work together in communities,” he said. The newly appointed head of Cheesekids, Kamu Kekana spoke about the World Giving Index, saying South Africa is ranked #108.
“Cheesekids opens the doors to different programmes so you can choose where to volunteer your time and money and help a stranger,” he said.
Local television personality Bonang Matheba shared her experience of Mandela Day 2012, and spoke proudly of her involvement in driving the Mandela Day initiative across South Africa.
Kaya FM’s Greg Maloka announced a 67km relay, which would raise money for a container library for a school and would support the continuing work of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. The relay idea came from the idea of Mr Mandela 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 67km together,” he said.
5FM radio DJ Gareth Cliff described Mandela Day as a positive nexus for people to gather around, a place where people can 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. Mandela Day is an international occasion where South Africa can lead,” he advised.
In closing Hatang quoted an article extract written by Ferial Haffajee, City Press editor.
“The excellent Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory has already made clear what the icon wants by way of legacy … he does not want a legacy cast in copper, concrete or marble, but a living legacy of volunteerism and service. What better direction can we ask for as a nation? As we begin the long clamber up his shoulders to work out how we complete the long walk to freedom. Mandela has shown us how. It is ours to do, to serve, to give and to complete the work of freedom.”
Click here to view the gallery of images of the Launch of Nelson Mandela International Day.