South Africa celebrates Nelson Mandela

In honour of Mandela Day, Morten Herace has volunteered with various human rights organisations at the Lindela Repatriation Centre, a detention centre for undocumented immigrants in South Africa. The  centre assists the immigrants as they wait for the legalization of their status or the deportation to their home countries. In this article, he explains the meaning of Mandela Day.

This Thursday, July 18, 2013 is an important day not only for South Africa but also for the rest of the world. This day marks the birthday of  Nelson Mandela who turns 95. South Africans from all walks of life, race, faith, old and young have volunteered 67 minutes of their times in honour of Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela Day or ‘Mandela Day” is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela that takes place each 18th of July. The day was officially declared as such by the United Nations in November 2009, and the first UN Mandela Day was held on July 18th 2010.*

Mandela Day is not meant as a public holiday, but as a day to honour the former President of the South Africa and his values, through volunteer work and community service. Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world, and the ability to make an impact. The aim of Mandela Day is to bring people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace and reconciliation.

Since June 8th 2013, Mandela has been admitted in an hospital and consequently, he celebrates his 95th birthday there. Appointed authorities have reported that his condition has improved from critical to stable. People and organisations throughout the country continue to pray for his well-being.

Unfortunately, the recent frequent visits of Nelson Mandela in hospitals have generated disputes among his offspring, precisely over the issue of his burial. The drama may now be put to rest as George Bizos, Nelson Mandela’s lawyer and long-time friend, informed the public through a written piece published on July 18th  in South Africa. The letter made clear that the final resting of Nelson Mandel, ain consultation with his current wife made will be Qunu, his village.

Meanwhile, corporations, schools, organisations and citizens have dedicated their day to Mandela Day as volunteers at public hospitals, schools and health centres. This year, the emphasis was on education, a subject close and dear to Nelson Mandela’s heart and a burning matter currently in South Africa. Many schools located in disadvantages neighborhoods were recipients of newly built libraries, classrooms, science laboratories, and donations of sport equipment donations.

South Africa is now in the middle of the winter season. So, the Salvation Army has increased the number of their public soup kitchens. During this season, orphanages and (frail) care giving centres  also receive most of their donations and register the highest number of volunteers.The environment is not left out with trees planted in 67 schools throughout South Africa.

Even though the country still suffers from racial-related challenges, Mandela Day is an opportunity for South Africans to come united as a nation and to pay tribute to one of the greatest leaders of our century.

*Additional source of information: Wikipedia and Nelson Mandela Foundation

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