Nelson Mandela International Day is celebrated every year on July 18 and is also known as Mandela Day. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was the former president of South Africa. He was the president from 1994 to 1999. Mr Mandela is widely regarded as a leader of social justice and a staunch advocate for democracy. He opposed the racist system of apartheid in South Africa and dedicated his life to establishing social equality for all. For his extensive work on social reform, Mr Mandela received over 250 honours and was awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
The United Nations officially declared July 18th as Nelson Mandela International day in 2009. It was first celebrated in 2010. The origin of the day came from Mr Mandela himself — he is believed to have announced that his birthday be celebrated as Mandela Day. The Nelson Mandela Foundation, on April 27, 2009, hosted a series of concerts to honour the legacy of Mr Mandela and celebrate his values through community service.
The day is meant to remember the services of Mr Mandela and honour them through volunteer work, awareness and community service. Mr Mandela believed in equality and the need for people to come together and help each other rise above social class and colour. This day is viewed as an opportunity to renew the values left behind by Mr Mandela. On this day several concerts, art exhibits and fundraising volunteer events take place.
In 2014 the United Nations General Assembly introduced the Nelson Mandela prize to recognise the achievements of those who dedicated their lives to the service of humanity, much like he had in his lifetime.
Since its inception in 2010, Nelson Mandela International Day has been celebrated with a theme for that particular year. The theme for this year is “One Hand Can Feed Another”. The day is celebrated by organisations that work for violence against women, genocide and crimes. These organisations also come together to spread awareness on these prevalent issues. Last year's theme was, “Take Action, Inspire Change”. The theme highlighted the importance of governments and citizens working together to build a peaceful, sustainable and equitable world for all.
In a video message on the occasion of Nelson Mandela International Day 2021, UN Secretary-General, António Guterres said that the day was an “opportunity to reflect on the life and legacy of a legendary global advocate for dignity, equality, justice and human rights”.
“Madiba's calls for solidarity and an end to racism are relevant today, as social cohesion around the world is threatened by division. Societies are becoming more polarised, with hate speech on the rise and misinformation blurring the truth, questioning science and undermining democratic institutions,” said Guterres, adding that the pandemic “has made these ills more acute and rolled back years of progress in the global fight against poverty”.
Mr Guterres, then, went on to highlight the importance of human solidarity and unity, the seriousness of which has come to the fore more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, and said that these were “values championed and exemplified by Nelson Mandela in his lifelong fight for justice”.
Madiba is the name by which Mr Mandela is sometimes referred to as. According to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, it's the name of the clan of which Mr Mandela was a member.
A blog post in Nelson Mandela Foundation states that the focus this year is “on two critical intersecting challenges being faced by South Africa and many other countries – food insecurity and cultures of lawlessness”.
The blog post goes on to add that before COVID-19 “one in four six-year-olds in South Africa suffered from stunting due to malnutrition”, and states that the pandemic “will surely worsen this devastating reality”.
As a result, the foundation will harness its ‘Each1Feed1' programme — a food distribution network started at the beginning of the lockdown to support families worst hit by food shortage.