Yesterday was Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday and the first ever Mandela Day, a day dedicated to transforming the world into a better place. It is “a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each person has the power to transform the world, the ability to make an imprint”.
Mandela Day is part of the legacy that Mr. Mandela left behind. He devoted 67 years of his life to peace activism and social justice. Mandela Day is a way for us to honor to his dedication and commitment to engaged citizenship. It serves as an inspiring reminder that we are all capable of creating change. As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Activism is a never-ending endeavor, as there is always more room for progress and improvement. Mr. Mandela once said, “after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb”. The establishment of Mandela Day should serve as a reminder to all of us that Mandela Day should not just be once a year, but instead every day of our lives. Many of us may perceive activism as a grand gesture when in reality activism can be easily integrated into our everyday lives.
So, Happy Belated Birthday Mr. Mandela, and Happy Mandela Day everybody! Here is a message from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:
Nelson Mandela is a living embodiment of the highest values of the United Nations. His commitment to a democratic, multi-racial South Africa; his steadfast pursuit of justice; his willingness to reconcile with those who persecuted him most – these are just some of the hallmarks of a remarkable man. To this day, he works tirelessly for peace and human dignity throughout the world. His engagement in the fight against AIDS broke new ground against stigma. He is an exemplary global citizen.
What lessons he has taught us! How inspiring he has been, across the world, across the generations! Millions of people are better off thanks to his contributions; many have been moved to pursue lives of service in his image; many, facing tribulations of their own, have found both solace and fortitude in his example. Above all, he has shown the difference one person can make in the face of injustice, conflict, poverty and disease.
Nelson Mandela has made a lasting imprint on our lives. That is why I am so pleased to join people throughout the world in wishing him a happy 91st birthday. May we all continue to benefit from his wisdom, his good works and good humour for many years to come.