Nelson Mandela International Day is marked on 18 July. Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in Transkei in South Africa as Rolihlahla Mandela. He devoted his life to the service of humanity, race equality, protect human rights, and fight against poverty and promotion of social justice. His dedication brought a new era of freedom in South Africa. In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July as “Nelson Mandela International Day” in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.
Nelson Mandela was educated and attended the University of the Witwatersrand, University of London, and the University of South Africa. He was strongly against of discrimination of people due to apartheid laws. He joined different racial groups to act against and end this apartheid law. Nelson Mandela’s major accomplishment was the African National Congress (ACN). ACN was a group formed by the black Africans who felt injustice towards them and felt like they were being treated unfairly by the whites who were in control of South Africa. He became president of ACN and started raising voice against the injustice done among the peoples related to their color, castes, work. He strongly fought against this law which caused him to visit jail for several times.
Nelson Mandela gave South Africa more equality with his leadership. His voice was against the government which was unbearable for the government. Mandela and 165 other leaders were arrested and put in prison in 1962, in an attempt that he wouldn’t spread his leadership skills to others. He wasn’t able to communicate with people so he had to wait till the time he was released out of prison. But that took a very long time. He was released after 27 years from the prison and he spoke to the president F.W. de Klerk and lifted a ban against the ANC. In 1990 after his release from the prison, South Africa held its first ever open election and Nelson Mandela was elected as the first black president in 1994.
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
As a president Nelson Mandela brought his country in a new time of equality and less racial segregation. Hundreds of South African citizens including men, women, and children of all races were with filled with joy. After his one term as President he stepped down in 1999. But, he continued to work with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund which he set up in 1995 and established the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation. Nelson Mandela was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in the year 2001. After his illness, at the age of 85, he announced his formal retirement from public life and returned to his native village.
The United Nations declared July 18 as “Nelson Mandela International Day” in recognition of his contributions to democracy, freedom, peace and human rights around the world and his contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle. It called on individuals to devote 67 minutes of their time – one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service to doing something for others, in honors of the 67 years that Mandela had been a part of the movement.
Mandela took political ideas from other thinkers, among them Indian independence leaders like Gandhi and Nehru, African-American civil rights activists, and African nationalists like Nkrumah, and applied them to the South African situation. Nelson Mandela was honored with more than 250 awards: Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and Bharat Ratna to name a few.
He made his last appearance at the final match of the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. He suffered a lung infection in 2011 and was hospitalized in Johannesburg. On December 5, 2013, at the age of 95, Nelson Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
It’s our duty to change the world for the better, for ourselves, our children’s, our communities, and our people. Nelson Mandela International Day is an occasion for each one of us to make a start and inspire change.