Countdown to 2018 Mandela Day

Monday, April 23, 2018

With less than 90 days to the 2018 Nelson Mandela Day, the countdown has begun. 

The Nelson Mandela Foundation says it’s all systems go, with various activities set to commemorate the late global icon, who would have turned 100 years on 18 July had he lived. 

The former statesman died on 5 December 2013 at the age of 95. 

The planned activities ahead of 18 July include activities aimed at eradicating poverty and racism, the ‘67 blankets’ drive, sporting events and the annual lecture, which will be delivered by former US President Barack Obama. 

The United Nations declared July 18 International Nelson Mandela Day. Annually on this day, people across political divides in South Africa and other parts of the world devote 67 minutes doing charitable work and prompting global citizens to take action against poverty. 

The 67 minutes signify the 67 years Madiba dedicated to the service of others. 

Speaking at the launch of the countdown at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg on Monday, Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang urged citizens, especially young people, to actively engage with the legacy of Mandela as well as other struggle stalwarts like Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. 

Hatang said Mandela Day is not just about 18 July and people should aim to bring about sustainable social change in the lives of others throughout the year, especially when 63% of children in South Africa are still living in poverty.  

“It is important that we use the capabilities we have, wherever we are stationed in life, in a way that dismantles the unequal structures of power and protects the most vulnerable. 

“All of us must commit to continuing Madiba’s work: fight poverty and inequality, and strive to eradicate the growing scourge of racism.”

International reach

Hatang said Obama will deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture. The lecture will be delivered on 17 July, a day before Madiba’s birthday, at Ellis Park, Johannesburg. The theme will be ‘Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World’. 

Obama visited South Africa on numerous occasions during his tenure as US President. He spoke at Mandela’s memorial service in December 2013. 

According to Hatang, the annual lecture is a platform to drive debate on critical social issues in South Africa and around the world. It focuses on creating conditions for bridging divides, working across ideological lines, and resisting oppression and inequality. 

Previous speakers include global thought leaders and change makers such as Presidents Bill Clinton, Thabo Mbeki, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mary Robinson and Michelle Bachelet; UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed; Nobel Laureates Kofi Annan, Wangari Maathai, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Muhammad Yunus; Professors Ariel Dorfman, Thomas Piketty and Ismail Serageldin; and philanthropists Bill Gates and Mo Ibrahim. –

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