Mandela Day

On 18 July every year, people around the world celebrate "Mandela Day", an annual celebration of Nelson Mandela's life and the human quest for peace and harmony.

18 July is Nelson Mandela' s birthday. Nelson Mandela is remembered as a great South African statesman who fought against Apartheid.

The day was declared an international day by the United Nations in 2009 to celebrate peace and freedom Nelson Mandela fought so hard for. The day is also referred to by the UN as 'Nelson Mandela International Day'. 

Mandela Day

What is Mandela Day?

Mandela Day is a celebration and remembrance of Nelson Mandela’s impact on South Africa and the world.

The tradition of celebrating a day in his name, was started in South Africa during Nelson Mandela's lifetime to mobilise the South Africans to fight agains poverty and work together across the cultures and races.

Who is Nelson Mandela?

Nelson Mandela - image by UNNelson Mandela (1918 - 2013)

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a former president of South Africa and one of the country's Nobel Peace Prize award winners. He is often called the 'father of South Africa' and is lovingly named 'madiba' or 'tata' (father) by the locals.

Mandela was as the opposition leader during  Apartheid, which was the time of racial division of the black and white people in South Africa. The black people in South Africa were kept separate from the white people and were put in different housing quarters and were neither allowed to live or travel where and when they wanted to nor to vote.

In 1964, Mandela was sentenced by the white Apartheid regime to life in prison for sabotage. He also was sent to a tiny and notorious Apartheid prison island, called Robber Island near Cape Town, and had to stay there for 28 years.

He was only released in 1990 after many people around the world voiced their concern and the coloured and black people in South Africa never gave up on fighting (relatively) peacefully.

In 1991 Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize together with white then-President FW de Klerk who was pushing for the changes and the end of the Apartheid rules in the ruling party.

In 1994, the first democratic  and free elections were held and Mandela was voted by all people as President of South Africa. He remained president until 1999. Mandela sadly passed away in 2013 at the age of 95 years.

What to do? How to help?

"Mandela day is all about changing the world for the better, just as Nelson Mandela did every day".

The aim is to work 67 minutes for Mandela: to support the needy and the poor in your community. The call is on you to change something in your community for 67 minutes just as Mandela did fight for change for 67 years!

South African children helping feed the poorSchoolchildren in South Africa helping to feed the poor - image by dpa news for kids

Mandela Day 2023

The inspiration is going further, so think about making every day Mandela day by making changes for the good in your city or community and helping those in need.

To inspire the people, many events are held on the day all over the world to create awareness for the good causes.

In the image below, this is what the people in Cape Town have organised some years ago. 

Nelson Mandela portrait made with cans - CanalWalk 2017Mandela portrait designed with food cans - Amazing isn't it?

Children and adults in South Africa usually donate food cans to the underprivileged community. The cans in 2017 were decorated with coloured stickers on the tops and designed a portrait of Mandela. Afterward all who attended a big event at one of South Africa's biggest shopping malls, Canal Walk in Cape Town, sang the South African anthem and celebrated their achievement. 

What are you doing for your 67 minutes?

Further References and good sites for research are:

  • Nelson Mandela Foundation. "Make every day a Mandela Day. It's in your hands!" MandelaDayLast accessed 24 August 2023
  • Nelson Mandela Foundation. "Foundation News." Last accessed 24 August 2023 
  • UN. "Nelson Mandela International Day." UN. Last accessed 24 August 2023

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