Nelson Mandela International Day is an opportunity to reflect on the life and legacy of “a legendary global advocate for dignity, equality, justice and human rights”, the United Nations chief António Guterres said on Sunday.
“Each year, on this day, Nelson’s Mandela’s birthday, we pay tribute to this extraordinary man who embodied the highest aspirations of the United Nations and the human family”, Guterres said in his message commemorating the 18 July celebration of South Africa’s first Black head of State.
According to UN chief, Mandela’s calls for solidarity and an end to racism are particularly relevant today, as social cohesion around the world is under threat of division.
With hate speech on the rise and misinformation blurring the truth, questioning science and undermining democratic institutions, societies are becoming more polarized, said the UN chief.
“As always in times of crises, it is the marginalized and discriminated against who suffer the most, often while being blamed for problems they did not cause”, Guterres said while adding that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has not only made these ills more acute but also rolled back years of progress in the global fight against poverty.
Nelson Mandela International Day, also known as Mandela Day, is held on July 18 every year. The day remembers Mandela’s achievements in working towards conflict resolution, democracy, human rights, peace, and reconciliation.
The first Mandela Day was launched in New York on July 18, 2009, but the UN’s resolution to declare the day occurred later that year. On November 10, 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring July 18 as “Nelson Mandela International Day”.
Mandela Day is not only celebrated Nelson Mandela’s life but it is also a global call to action for people to recognize their ability to have a positive effect on others around them. The day hopes to inspire people to embrace the values that Mandela shared. These values include democracy, freedom, equality, diversity, reconciliation, and respect.
Many people and organizations around the world take part in many activities to promote Nelson Mandela Day. These activities include volunteering, sport, art, education, music and culture. Various events are also held on or around July 18 to honor Nelson Mandela’s works and to promote the different projects that were inspired by Mandela’s achievements.
Mandela Day also celebrates a campaign known as “46664”, in reference to Nelson Mandela’s Robben Island prison number. The campaign was originally launched to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. However, its focus expanded to broader humanitarian work and to serve humanity.