On 18 July, Nelson Mandela would have been 99 years old. Across the world, people celebrated the iconic statesman’s birthday and legacy by volunteering 67 minutes (to honor the 67 years he spent fighting for social justice and democracy) of their time to heed his call to the next generation of leaders to pick up the mantle to make the world a better place.
Nelson Mandela International Day was inspired by Mandela’s speech on 27 June 2008 in his Hyde Park, London address where he appealed to leaders of all nations to help change the world for the better, “it’s in your hands now, “ he said. In acknowledging his contribution to peace and reconciliation, United Nations General Assembly launched the Internal Day in 2009.
When others would seek the comfort of retirement, after his incarceration for twenty-seven years, Mandela took the responsibility to offer leadership as the first President of a democratic South Africa. He left an indelible mark on public life and the freedom of all South Africans. During his leadership, South Africa was the first nuclear nation to dismantle and destroy all its nuclear weapons and back non-proliferation. The death penalty and corporal punishment were outlawed, freedom for women in the matters regarding their own bodies became a reality, the land was restored to those dispossessed, and people’s dignity affirmed.
Mandela was a man of faith, principle, hope, and inspiration. One of the most enduring legacies he bequeathed to the world was a model of working for peace and reconciliation in conflict situations. He was awarded the World Methodist Council’s Peace Award, the organization’s premier honor presented to an individual for courage, creativity, and consistency in witnessing to peace, justice, and reconciliation.
Long live the legacy of Mandela! Long live!
The World Methodist Council