By Lisa Vives
NEW YORK (IDN | GIN) – On July 18, the international community will observe the ‘Nelson Mandela International Day’ – formalised by the UN General Assembly in November 2009 – to recall the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.
For 67 years Nelson Mandela, who was born in a village named Mvezo of South Africa in 1918, devoted his life to the service of humanity – as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa, recalls the UN.
He was the first black South African president who reigned from 1994 to 1999. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his contribution to make South Africa free and bringing peace in and around Africa.
This year's Nelson Mandela International Day (or Mandela Day) comes as Americans reflect on a spate of race-related violence and the undeniable evidence of the persistence of intolerance that Mandela devoted his life to oppose.
In December 2015, the General Assembly decided to extend the scope of Nelson Mandela International Day also to be utilized in order to promote humane conditions of imprisonment, to raise awareness about prisoners being a continuous part of society and to value the work of prison staff as a social service of particular importance.
General Assembly Resolution A/RES/70/175 not only adopted the revised United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, but also approved that they should be known as the "Nelson Mandela Rules" in order to honour the legacy of the late President of South Africa, who spent 27 years in prison in the course of his struggle referred to above.
In South Africa, on July 18, the 7th annual Bikers for Mandela Day will take the call for service to remote areas.
"We have crossed over 12,000 kilometres since the inception of this initiative in 2010 and assisted over 20 charitable organisations through Bikers for Mandela day. We look forward to paying tribute to Madiba’s [Mandela's family name] unwavering legacy once again. We believe that every small action of goodwill leads to a larger movement in the right direction,” said organiser Zelda la Grange, formerly Mandela's private secretary.
Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, speaking to students at the Dr Mathole Motshekga Primary School in Tembisa, said: “Mandela Day gives us a way to energise our collective commitment, and it helps to know you are not doing this alone – there are millions of us. This helps build the movement of doing something good for someone else, selflessly caring for others, and remind ourselves that we belong to a global, human family.”
Also in South Africa, RACE (against time) – a song against racism written and co-produced by Katlego Maboe, David Harmse and Ntokozo Mkhize – will raise money for Anti-Racism Network South Africa (ARNSA). Developed by The Nelson Mandela and Ahmed Kathrada Foundations, it takes a thoughtful look at the roots of racism.
Maboe explained in a recent interview: “Understanding that this is a deeply seated issue that has seen many generations suffer under its oppressive grip, the song aims to encourage people to reflect on the past and draw inspiration from the likes of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jnr. and Desmond Tutu who made conscious contributions and who brought about positive change to the state of societies across the globe.”
Explaining the title of the single, Maboe said: “There is a deliberate play on words. The issue of race is a matter of urgency for all of us and we all stand to lose and suffer the consequences if we don’t solve the problem in time.”
Laura Santoni, Director of Sing the Change added: “The Sing the Change Choir is thrilled to have been given the opportunity to collaborate on this song. Through the power of music and self-expression, the youth are offered a voice and a creative platform that helps encourage them to contribute to a positive change on the issue of racism and other global issues.” [IDN | INPS – 14 July 2016]
Photo: Smiling Nelson Mandela Foundation volunteers make the most of their 67 minutes for Mandela Day at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Credit: Nelson Mandela Foundation.
IDN is flagship of the International Press Syndicate. GIN (Global Information Network) is its partner.
IDN is flagship of the International Press Syndicate.