Mandela Day

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The Nelson Mandela Foundation launched a new strategy for International Nelson Mandela Day, titled Mandela Day: The Next Chapter, at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in May 2019. The new strategy charts a new path for the ten-year-old initiative significantly changing the manner in which it will impact on people’s lives. The next ten years of Mandela Day will see the establishment of a global network of change-makers to ensure deeper and sustainable impact in response to global challenges of poverty.

The launch was attended by stakeholders from global organisations, corporate South Africa and civil society organisations - among them, the United Nations, Habitat for Humanity, Vodacom, early childhood development practitioners and national celebrities.

Over the past decade, Mandela Day has enjoyed global support and solidarity as an opportunity to practice  commitment to uplifting the dignity of others and as a day to commemorate the lifetime of service Nelson Mandela gave to South Africa and the world. Mandela Day has moved away from an ad hoc, individualised, reactive approach and moved towards a sustainable, long-term, collaborative methodology to address issues affecting our society.

Director of Mandela Day at the Foundation Yase Godlo unpacked the new strategy as introducing structural changes. It harnesses the research, analysis and dialogue work of the Foundation to inform a global database of needs from which Mandela Day initiatives can identify where the greatest needs lie, where the most impact is needed and how best to intervene. The second intervention of the new strategy is the introduction of the Mandela Day Global Network, a collaborative, sustainable, solutions-based community of organisations, foundations and associations that is facilitated by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to connect resources and information to needs.

The Foundation’s Chief Executive, Sello Hatang noted how Mandela Day has grown and is now active in over 200 countries since it was introduced by a unanimous resolution by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009. “Nelson Mandela did not want Mandela Day to become a public holiday but an opportunity to address deep-rooted issues,” reflected Hatang.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has joined hands with Habitat for Humanity to address the need for dignified shelter in South Africa. At the launch, one of the beneficiaries of that partnership, Mabel Mofokeng, who used to live in a shack and received a home from the work of Mandela Day shared the following: “Today I can go to my bathroom inside my house, with my mirror and see myself. I don’t have to go outside any longer. I am the queen of my home.” She called on other organisations and corporates to put their shoulders to the wheel in support of initiatives that seek to provide housing to previously disadvantaged people.

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Dr Mamphela Ramphele, a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, reminded us of Madiba’s passion for fighting poverty. She said, as we continue with this effort, we must remember that “poverty is not an absence of money but a lack of love”. Dr Ramphele also cited climate change as another challenge that needs attention as it continues to devastate vulnerable communities. “Climate change emergencies are hitting the poorest the most. Witness Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and recently KZN (KwaZulu-Natal) and Eastern Cape disasters; We dare not fail our grandchildren by continuing to borrow from their futures.” reflected the doctor.

The new Mandela Day strategy will primarily encourage collaborative partnerships to support initiatives in the areas of education and literacy, food and nutrition, sanitation, shelter as well as active citizenship. This approach will see sharpened focus on early childhood development as a key investment area to make a significant dent in the scourge of poverty.


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