Nelson Mandela Day

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18 July 2013

18 July, which is Nelson Mandela's birthday, was declared by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) as Nelson Mandela International Day in 2010.  The celebration of this international day recognises and gives credence to the former President’s commitment to human rights, conflict resolution and reconciliation.

It is an annual celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life and a global call to action for people to recognise their individual power to make an imprint and change the world around them.

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.

President Jacob Zuma this year marks Nelson Mandela Day by officially handing over houses to the community of Danville, Pretoria West on 18 July.

Other events tinclude schools all over South Africa uniting in song to wish Mr Mandela a happy birthday at 08:00. Government has organised a number of events for Mandela Day, and public servants devoted at least 67 minutes of their time to make South Africa a better place.

Mandela Day was created to inspire people to embrace the values of democracy and contribute towards the ideals of ensuring a just and fair society.

  • President Jacob Zuma first introduced the concept of Nelson Mandela Day in 2009, to motivate a nationwide campaign to get the public involved in charitable activities.
  • In November 2009, the UNGA paid tribute to Mandela by adopting a resolution to make the international community aware of his humanitarian work.
  • The campaign aims to showcase the work of the Nelson Mandela charitable organisations (Nelson Mandela Foundation, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation) and raise funds to support their continuing work.
  • The Mandela Day Campaign message encourages people to use 67 minutes of their time to support a chosen charity or serve in their local community. The 67 minutes symbolically represent the number of years the former President fought for human rights and the abolition of apartheid. Mandela Day is a call for action for individuals – for people everywhere – to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place, one small step at a time, just as Mr Mandela did. Read more about what you can do on Mandela Day or how you can get involved.

This day recognises the icon’s leading role in and support for Africa's struggle for liberation and unity, and his outstanding contribution to the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist democratic South Africa.

  • 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 our Constitution that provides for the rights of all people living in our country and the affirms democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom for all.

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