July 18 is Nelson Mandela Day and the birthday of a human being as good as God makes. Each year the day inspires others to “take action to help change the world for the better and in doing so build a global movement for good”. It celebrates Nelson Mandela’s life and his values – democracy, freedom, equality, diversity, reconciliation, respect – and encourages all people to “recognize their ability to have a positive effect on others around them”.
Nelson Mandela Day is empowering for communities everywhere in the world and a chance for us to show “service to one’s fellow human”.
Background on the Life of Nelson Mandela
“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 but focus expanded to broader humanitarian work. The efforts from Mandela Day support the 46664 campaign’s ongoing work and other charitable organizations.
Nelson Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa, on July 18, 1918. He is one of the most well-known anti-apartheid activists in South Africa. Jailed on Robben Island in 1964 for leading the liberation movement against apartheid and for his stance on the human right to live in freedom, Nelson Mandela’s prisoner number was 466. Robben Island prisoners were never referred to by their names, but rather by their prison number and year of imprisonment – hence 46664 was Nelson Mandela’s number. His release from prison in 1990 fed political debates in the country and contributed to South Africa’s transition towards a multi-racial democracy.
After his release, Nelson Mandela continued addressing racial issues in his country and supported reconciliation initiatives. His efforts resulted in his election as South Africa’s president in 1994. He remained in office as president until 1999. In 1993 he won the Nobel Peace Prize, together with another former South African president, Frederik Willem de Klerk. In 2007 Mandela formed the Elders, an independent group of global leaders who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address causes of major human suffering, and promote shared interests of humanity.
Nelson Mandela’s birthday was first celebrated in New York City on July 18, 2009. Later that year on November 10 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring July 18 as “Nelson Mandela International Day”. The day marks Nelson Mandela’s contribution to peace through his active involvement in resolving conflicts and promoting human rights, international democracy, and reconciliation.
Various statues and civic and musical tributes honor Nelson Mandela. For example, a statue in Mandela’s image stands at Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg. A bridge, known as the Nelson Mandela Bridge, is also found in Johannesburg and several counties have issued postage stamps dedicated to Mandela.”