Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela International Day (or Mandela Day) it is celebrated annually on 18 July to celebrate the birthday of South African anti-apartheid revolutionary politician, President of South Africa and Nobel Prize laureate Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who Was Born l8 July 1918. It was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on 18 July 2010. Mandela Day is not meant as a public holiday, but as a day to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s former President, and his values, through volunteering and community service. Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world and the ability to make an impact. The campaign message for Mandela Day is:”Nelson Mandela fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes and would be honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace and reconciliation,”.

A Xhosa born to the Thembu royal family, Mandela attended the Fort Hare Universityand the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. Living in Johannesburg, he became involved in anti-colonial politics, joining the ANC and becoming a founding member of its Youth League. After the South African National Party came to power in 1948, he rose to prominence in the ANC’s 1952 Defiance Campaign, was appointed superintendent of the organisation’s Transvaal chapter and presided over the 1955 Congress of the People. Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and, with the ANC leadership, was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961. Although initially committed to non-violent protest, he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961 in association with the South African Communist Party, leading a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.

Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. Mandela published his autobiography and opened negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory. As South Africa’s first black president Mandela formed a Government of National Unityin an attempt to defuse racial tension. He also promulgated a new constitution and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rightsabuses. Continuing the former government’s liberal economic policy, his administration introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services.

Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, and oversaw military intervention in Lesotho. He declined to run for a second term, and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela subsequently became an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.Although Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life, he became widely popular during the last two decades following his release. Despite a minority of critics who continued to denounce him as a communist and/or terrorist, he gained international acclaim for his activism, having received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the SovietOrder of Lenin and the Bharat Ratna. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata (“Father”); he is often described as “the father of the nation”. It was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on 18 July 2010. Mandela Day is not meant as a public holiday, but as a day to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s former President, and his values, through volunteering and community service. Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world and the ability to make an impact. The campaign message for Mandela Day is:”Nelson Mandela fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes and would be honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace and reconciliation,”.

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