Mandela Day is an international day of honour, servitude and remembrance, celebrated each year on the 18th of June, on Nelson Mandela’s birthday.

Nelson Mandela famously said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Mandela Day is about changing the world for the better, whether it’s a small act of kindness, a donation to a worthy cause, or giving your time to those in need. There are many incredible ways to celebrate Mandela Day this year, which we’ll dive into later in this post. 

What Is Mandela Day?

Mandela Day is about more than just a celebration of the legendary man’s life and legacy, it is a day to reflect on what we as individuals and as a nation are doing to make a change for the better.

The day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on 18 July 2010.

Since then, Mandela Day has encouraged a movement of people across the globe, seeing each person dedicate 67 minutes of their time to collectively make a difference through volunteering, donations and community service. The idea is to give at least 67 minutes of your time on this day.

Why 67 minutes for Mandela Day, you may ask? Nelson Mandela fought for social justice for 67 years of his life and by devoting 67 minutes of our time – one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service – we can take a step towards a global movement for good.

To find out more about Mandela’s life, the struggles he faced and the 27 years he spent incarcerated, step inside his prison cell and walk around the infamous limestone quarry on the Cape Town Robben Island Museum Tour, or discover the entirety of this incredible leader’s journey during The Footsteps of Nelson Mandela Tour.

Why Do We Celebrate Mandela Day?

The message behind Mandela Day is simple: We all have the ability and the responsibility to make the world a better place for everyone in it.

No matter how small your action is on Mandela day, if every small action holds the intention to change the world, just as Nelson Mandela did, we can change the world.

This is a day for us to get stuck in, roll up our sleeves and play an active role in helping to heal and build our communities. Whether we donate our time, our money or lend a helping hand to someone in need, sharing Nelson Mandela’s vision of a better future for everyone should be our intention. 

The theme for International Nelson Mandela Day 2021 is: One Hand can Feed Another.

How Can You Celebrate Mandela Day 2021

Over the past decade, Mandela Day has raised the opportunity to practise commitment to uplifting the dignity of South Africans and others around the world. Mandela Day encourages people to support initiatives in the areas of:

  • Education 
  • Literacy 
  • Food
  • Nutrition 
  • Sanitation
  • Shelter

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mandela Day celebrations will be mostly digital. However, here are a few Mandela Day ideas for people around the world to celebrate this day (while still social distancing):

  • Do a neighbourhood or beach clean up.
  • Sort through your cupboards and put together bags of clothes and other household items to donate to charity.
  • Collect sanitary products to donate to schools, children’s homes, women’s centres, and hospitals.
  • Make ‘care kits’ for patients in hospitals – include items like toothpaste, soap, shampoo, facecloth, comb, reading material, and other useful items.
  • Put together food parcels and hand them out to people on the street – a few ideas include canned goods, soup kits, porridge, bread, vegetable parcels, or ready-made sandwiches.
  • Donate blood or sign up to become an organ donor.
  • Collect stationery and other educational materials to donate to schools in need.
  • When buying your regular coffee on the day, pay for the person’s order behind you. Or, buy a few extra coffees and hand them out to the first people you see.
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter.
  • Send cake and other treats to your nearest old age home or treatment centre for the staff and residents to enjoy.

Find more Mandela Day ideas and how you can contribute 67 minutes for Mandela on the official Mandela Day website.

Mandela Day 2021 Events and Initiatives in South Africa

There are plenty of organizations all around the world, each running incredible projects, drives and initiatives that you can get involved with this Mandela Day. Below are just a few of the incredible organizations sharing their plans for Mandela Day.

Mandela Day in aid of Santa Shoebox Project 

For Christmas in July, volunteers assist in packing thousands of Santa Shoeboxes filled with toiletries, sweets, clothing, school supplies and stationary, books and toys for underprivileged children in South Africa and Namibia. Children younger than 13 are welcome to register and serve their 67 minutes. Find out more about the Santa Shoebox project. This year, Personalised Virtual Santa shoeboxes will be available from 18 July – Mandela Day.

67 Stories with Learning in Reach

67 Stories is a Learning in Reach initiative where writers, videographers and photographers collectively document 67 individual’s stories. Amplifying voices from Lavender Hill, highlighting the importance of Early Childhood Development and documenting a 5-year journey of progress in quality early childhood development.

Writers, photographers, and videographers can sign-up and volunteer their skills.

Ladles of Love Mandela Day and Beyond! 

Book your tickets for the Ladles of Love event and contribute to their world-record attempt at breaking the longest line of food cans. Donate 67 minutes of your time or purchase food cans to pay forward on Mandela Day in partnership with the V&A Waterfront.

Contribute to the Each1Feed1 programme

Support the official Mandela Day initiative is the #Each1Feed1 campaign. The initiative is seeking to bring relief to the plight of food insecurity during and after the crisis we are facing due to the pandemic and the lockdown. You can donate via this link.

Volunteer for one of For Good’s initiatives

Browse through the list of volunteer opportunities that For Good has put together for Mandela Day 2021. They have pulled together a bunch of opportunities for you to do your 67 minutes for Mandela from home using your skills and time – from coaching, mentoring, finance, tech support and marketing.

Whatever you do on 18 July this year, take action, inspire change and go forward and make every day a Mandela Day!

What are you doing for Mandela Day 2021?

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