It is remarkable to think that today, each year we have an official day, for remembering Nelson Mandela, Mandela Day. It is marked across the world on the July 18 as a day in which people, especially young people, are to take action to change the world for the better and, in doing so, build a global movement that is aimed at doing good for humanity.

Mandela Day, which is on Nelson Mandela’s birthday, July 18, was inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made during a speech in London, 2008, for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said “It is in your hands now”. Thus the following year, 2009, the United Nations unanimously adopted the day as Nelson Mandela Day. People around the world were thus challenged to spend at least 67 minutes doing good work in their communities in the honour of the 67 years that Mandela gave in service and sacrifice.

Nelson Mandela always viewed himself as a servant of his people in South Africa, while he was also a servant for all of humanity. With his vision of a new and free South Africa, as well as his sacrifices in spreading social justice and freedom for all, he inspired millions to do the same for their countries, for their communities. It is now your chance to do the same for your community.

One thing which I think that all who read this can relate to is the question of education in our country for example. By education, I do not refer to the process of going to school, getting good grades, and going home to show your parents, or merely get into university. All these are necessary of course. What I am talking about is a culture of education. Where, reading is not an exercise that is limited to the classroom, where books are not dreadful or are a measure for telling if you are smart or not. But where we have communities where people love and share books freely, and help those who cannot read or are struggling to, find their own love for books. This way, we can help alleviate the problem of education from a communal level first, before we even begin to go to school.

To do this, you can start a community reading club with your friends in your community, where you can read to little children who are in grade 1-3 for example. This will help them not to fear books, and to love them. And so, by the time they are in grade 4 or 5 or even high school, they can read fluently, grasp information easily and communicate it well, because it comes in the form of a book, which they would already love. By the time they are in high school, they will have less problems in understanding and applying the content. This could be your contribution to your community – education.

Education was very key in Nelson Mandela’s struggle for a free and equal society in South Africa and beyond. This could be your struggle too, and you can start now on Mandela Day.

“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.” It is now in our hands to fulfil our duty to our communities, so that we too can leave not only leave behind a legacy, but live side by side with it as he did.

Written by Dumisa Mbuwa


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