Earlier this year, on July 18, social media was ablaze with photos of people “celebrating” #MandelaDay! by doing charitable work for 67 minutes. A week before this, articles of people getting ready for the big day circulated our circuits. These charitable acts ranged from knitting up a storm, collecting food parcels, donating old clothes, cleaning and painting schools and homes, visiting schools with disabilities, anything and everything that can be deemed helpful to the needy.

We even saw President Ramaphosa opening and handing over houses, visiting hospitals, christening clinics, handing out food parcels, basically kissing babies, all for the spirit of giving back for Mandela Day.

Everyone did great work on this day and helped a lot of people in need. So now that the day is over, what happens? What happens when those scarfs, hats and ponchos are worn out? What happens when the food has been consumed and the paint starts looking shabby once again? Who plays with and reads to those kids now that Mandela Day is over? And why are we not seeing any more acts of kindness hitting our social media pages?

This is not just about #MandelaDay, it is about all our other “glorified” days of activism.

August was a month where women stood in solidarity against abuse and violence. #TheTotalShutDown – A Womxn’s Movement against GBV – was a movement like no other. We marched. We sang. We held hands. We spoke out against this shameful act of demeaning and violating another human being. We shared our stories of pain, abuse, survival and victory. We were one!

But once again, as the month drew to an end, so did the momentum of the fight. And I’m left wondering why.

Could this be because the world does not stand still and things change, so we must also move along and change with them? Could it be that there’s just so much happening in the world, that we once again get caught up with life and the moving currents?

I refuse to believe that it could be because we have resolved these issues because the evidence speaks otherwise. So why is it that we’ve moved on so quickly?

Why do we become compassionate for only an hour of a day? Whatever happened to the spirit of ubuntu? Have we lost our way, and become so self-serving that we must be seen with the less fortunate, smiling at the camera for the world to see our goodness?

What happened to doing good for the sake of doing good, without wanting compensation or any recognition? What happened to helping out a fellow human-being who has less than you? To doing random acts of kindness and just being good and kind everywhere you went? To protecting a woman and child because it takes a village? To stepping up when you see one being victimised and violated? To respecting another’s life and caring for one another?

I acknowledge that there are organisations and people who do the work daily, who have made helping out their life’s mission. But I feel that these organisations and individuals with constant dedication are not so popular on the media and their work doesn’t go viral as much.

It is clear that we make waves when we want to and we can affect change. But how many of us do this when the cameras aren’t rolling?

I am making a call, appealing to the humanity in all of us, that we should not wait to do good just for this one day, or even one month, so we can feel better about ourselves. We should rather do this always.

Find out where you can help and give your time. If you knit, give your time teaching kids to knit their own scarfs. If you’re a reader, give your time playing and reading to those who need it. Give your time for more than just one hour of one day of the year. Become an active citizen and take care of one another – umntu ngumntu ngabantu.


Tell us: Why do you think these campaigns fade away?