Six years ago, Nelson Mandela made a call to the next generation to take action to address the world’s social injustices. One year later, in 2009, the first Nelson Mandela International Day was celebrated, launched via unanimous decision in the UN General Assembly. Today, in our fifth year of commemoration, we continue to join the call to carry on Mandela’s legacy and to join the global movement for good. Nelson Mandela once said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
Mandela left us with large shoes to fill: he was a man who changed his life, served his country, and helped free his people. He saw himself first and foremost as a servant of South Africa’s people, to whom he owed a duty and whom he led by example. Serving as a as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker, and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa, Nelson Mandela contributed greatly to our culture of peace and freedom, and for that we salute and thank him. It is now our challenge to follow in his footsteps.
The message behind Mandela Day is simple: everyone has the ability and responsibility to serve others and to create positive change. This can happen any day, anywhere in the world, and the responsibility belongs to everyone. By giving a little of our time, we can start to change the world around us, and by emulating the leadership and service of Nelson Mandela, we can become change makers ourselves.
This year the Nelson Mandela Foundation wants us to remember that Mandela Day is not about symbolic gestures. It is not about "one day of generosity and then back to the normal routine." We join the Foundation and the international community in encouraging people to take responsibility for making the world a better place for all -- to make every day a Mandela Day.
What will you do to make today a Mandela day? Lead by example and pay tribute to a great man. Join the Mandela Day community and share how you plan to take action, inspire others, and make a difference using #MandelaDay and #Time2Serve.