Mandela Day: Celebrating the life of South Africa's first Black President
- Nelson Mandela International Day is celebrated on July 18
- The theme for this year's Mandela Day is 'One Hand Can Feed Another'
- Mandela was one of the foundational leaders of South Africa’s fight against apartheid
Mandela Day, or the Nelson Mandela International Day, is observed on July 18 every year to mark the birth anniversary of anti-apartheid revolutionary and former and the first Black President of South Africa Nelson Mandela.
First celebrated in 2010 after the United Nations officially declared the day in 2009, the day is spent reflecting on Mandela’s philosophy of social change. Many take up volunteer work to mark the day.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres, in his message for the day, said, “Each year, on this day, Nelson Mandela’s birthday, we pay tribute to this extraordinary man who embodied the highest aspirations of the United Nations and the human family.”
The theme for this year’s Mandela Day is ‘One Hand Can Feed Another’ with a focus on hunger and the importance of sharing one’s resources amid a global pandemic that has left millions in poverty.
Mandela Day sees discussions around peace, security and well-being of nations. The day is of immense significance in calendars of organisations working on building opposition to crimes against women, genocide and other issues around social justice.
In 2015, the UN General Assembly extended the scope of Mandela Day. The UN adopted the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and approved that they be known as Nelson Mandela Rules.
The Mandela Rules promote humane conditions of imprisonment, raise awareness about the need to ensure prisoners remain part of society, and to value the work of prison staff as a social service of particular importance, according to the UN website.
South Africa’s first Black President, Nelson Mandela, was among the greatest political figures of the 20th Century. He took over the reins of South Africa after spending 27 years in prison. Mandela was one of the foundational leaders of South Africa’s fight against apartheid.
This Mandela Day comes at a time of immense political violence and social unrest in South Africa. Protests broke out across the country after the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma. Looters have plundered businesses, pharmacies and in one case even a blood bank.