Man­dela Day

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT -

IOnce a year, on the 18th of July, South Africans across the Rain­bow Na­tion come to­gether to do some­thing beau­ti­ful. They do­nate 67 min­utes of their time to a worth­while com­mu­nity project in hon­our of our late great global icon, Nel­son Man­dela. But how much of this is a waste of time? n 2008, at his 90th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions in Hyde Park in Lon­don, Man­dela in­spired the idea of Man­dela Day when he said: “It is time for new hands to lift the bur­dens. It is in your hands now.” The Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion then is­sued the chal­lenge: “Mr Man­dela has spent 67 years mak­ing the world a bet­ter place. We’re ask­ing you for 67 min­utes.” And now, ev­ery year, thou­sands of people vol­un­teer just 67 min­utes of their time to make the world a bet­ter place. It’s a huge in­spi­ra­tion, but it’s also a huge waste of time.

Let me tell what I did last Man­dela Day. I have young kids, so I wanted to choose a project that would give them a sense of the rel­a­tive priv­i­lege that they en­joy so that they take it less for granted. One of the lo­cal un­der­priv­i­leged schools was ac­tively seek­ing vol­un­teers for a num­ber of projects and we en­thu­si­as­ti­cally signed up. The school had re­cently re­ceived a do­na­tion of a few tins of paint, and we were as­signed the task of paint­ing a fence around the play area.

We did a good job, I think. Well, to be hon­est, it could have been bet­ter. For starters, my young daugh­ter thought it would be much more fun to paint daddy’s

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