Susan O'Rourke | June 14, 2022
On July 18, 2022, we both commemorate the extraordinary “life and legacy” of the former president of South Africa, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and civil rights leader but also join in the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s call to “create a global movement for good.” By marking Nelson Mandela International Day each year on his birthday, we are called to renew our commitment to taking action to make the world a more just and equitable place, especially by improving access to education, eliminating hunger and poverty, creating safe and affordable living conditions for people around the world, and by promoting peace. While these are tall orders, “world leaders at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit” in 2018 noted that “[our] common humanity demands that we make the impossible possible.” Mandela likewise recognized the challenging nature of building a more just society but encouraged people that, while “[it] is easy to break down and destroy[,] [the] heroes are those who make peace and build.”
Given Mandela’s own experiences of twenty-seven years of unjust political imprisonment, the “scope of” the July 18th celebration has recently been “[extended]….to promote human conditions of imprisonment, raise awareness about prisoners being a continuous part of society, and to value the work of prison staff as a social service of particular importance.” To learn more about Nelson Mandela’s experiences and the Mandela Rules for fair treatment of prisoners, check out the following resources:
- In His Own Words: Nelson Mandela’s Prison Years (Google Arts & Culture)
- Nelson Mandela’s Trials and Prison Chronology (The Archive at the Centre of Memory and the Nelson Mandela Foundation)
- Nelson Mandela’s Prison Guard and Friend, Christo Brand (Interview with Christo Brand following Mandela’s death; from CBC Radio)
- Nelson Mandela Rules (United Nations)
- The Nelson Mandela Rules: Protecting the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty (United Nations)
To help advance the global causes Mandela championed, people can first look to their local communities, whether their classrooms, towns, or the states they call home.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation recommends the following:
- “Plant and grow fresh, organic and cost-effective produce in or for vulnerable communities.
- Plant and grow trees for the well-being of all, with an emphasis on fruit trees in support of food production for vulnerable communities.
- Invest in sustainable food production platforms to the benefit of vulnerable communities.
- Collect and distribute children’s books to under-resourced schools.
- Tutor someone who needs help learning your mother tongue.
- Learn First Aid.
- Give blood.
- Go on a social media fast for the day and make an effort to get to know people who you wouldn’t ordinarily speak to.
- Blog about a non-profit [organization] that needs support.
- Offer your skills (finance, marketing, customer service, etc.) to help an [organization] run more efficiently.”
For more ideas on how you can start making a world of a difference in your local community, check out the following resources: