#MandelaDay: a chance for interfaith dialogue and community change

A statue of Nelson Mandela in Westminster, London. Credit: Wikipedia.

July 18 is a day for change. A change inspired by the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Each year, the Nelson Mandela Foundation makes a simple request: that you dedicate 67 minutes of your time to humanity. Why 67 minutes? The number represents Mandela’s 67 years of public service. In 2009, the United Nations adopted a resolution to recognise Nelson Mandela Day.

Saturday July 18 would have been his 97th birthday.

Inspired by Mandela’s values, the day intends to promote positive self-improvement through community work.

That work can be as simple as spending 67 minutes making a new friend; irrespective of ethnicity or faith. Or spending those minutes donating unwanted items and clothing to a charity shop. What matters most is to do something that inspires positive change.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation encourages individuals to nominate ‘community changers’ with the #Time2Serve hashtag. Others can take part with the #MandelaDay hashtag.

To echo Mandela’s words in 2008: “There is still too much discord, hatred, division, conflict and violence in our world here at the beginning of the 21st century. A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.… It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build”.

The charity 46664 – which is the number Mr Mandela wore while he was in prison – helps increase awareness of HIV/Aids. With that in mind, the foundation encourages individuals (and their partners) to get tested for HIV/Aids.

The Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation issued a plea for religious tolerance, “We are members of one family‚ the human family‚ God’s family – all of us‚ black‚ white‚ red‚ yellow‚ gay‚ straight‚ Christian‚ Muslim‚ Hindu‚ Jew‚ Buddhist‚ Atheist‚ wealthy‚ poor‚ Mozambican‚ Pakistani‚ Tibetan‚ Egyptian‚ American‚ Congolese‚ Fijian‚ Chinese‚ South African… All.

Nelson Mandela International Day focuses our attention on each other‚ and our responsibilities to live Madiba’s legacy forever through the work we all do.”

“Imagine how much better the world would be were we all to recognise our common humanity‚ as Madiba did‚ and do something kind for someone else every day?”

Tomorrow is a chance to do a little good in your community and work towards something new.