Mandela Day, July 18 2013: Celebrating the legacy that binds humanity beyond borders

Being a South African diplomat in Bulgaria presents one with an ample opportunity to reflect and engage with the resonance of the meaning of Nelson Mandela. Having spoken to a few taxi drivers on my way to The Mall and with passengers on the metro to Tsarigradsko Chaussee about Nelson Mandela, one gets the sense that Nelson Mandela’s legacy is relevant to the rest of humanity. When Mandela came out of jail in 1991 after serving 27 years, a sense of hope and urgency to social action and responsible world citizenry engulfed all of us, irrespective of race, creed, sexual orientation and all sorts of things that are used to identify human beings.

This fact was recognized by the United Nations, and Mandela Day was created to inspire people to embrace Mr Mandela’s values and make an imprint through service to their communities. The UN has confirmed that July 18, Mandela day is an annual celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life and a global call to action for people to recognise their power to make an impression and change the world around them.

Nelson Mandela spoke vehemently against the abuse of women and children, for the total eradication of poverty, access to health care, a free press and media which are all the pillars of human rights, justice and democracy. He called to action governments, civil society and business to play a role in eradicating poverty which he likened to apartheid and slavery which, according to him, are not natural organic phenomena but are man-made and can be overcome by collective actions of human beings. That is why, in 1955 at Kliptown, Soweto, men and women, young and old, from all walks of life, gathered to adopt the Freedom Charter which spells out the vision for South Africa, Africa and the world. That document still remains relevant in addressing our contemporary challenges.

This is the script on which South Africa’s foreign policy is premised and predicated. In our interactions in the diplomatic and international relations sphere, we carry it with us. To this day, South Africa is steaming ahead with policy initiatives such as the New Growth Path, aiming at bettering the lives of ordinary South Africans, and continue to propagate the Africa’ Renaissance, to re-energize Africa’s economies and lastly, to continue to engage with progressive forces of the world to make it a better place to live in.

How else can we celebrate the birthday of Nelson Mandela July 18 2013?

* Boiki Motloung is Charge D ‘Affaires of the Embassy of South Africa in Bulgaria.

(Nelson Mandela. Photo: UN Photo/Pernaca Sudhakaran)