Be a social activist this Mandela Day
In 2009, the United Nations officially declared 18 July as Nelson Mandela International Day, recognising Madiba’s “values and his dedication to the service of humanity”.
The idea for the day was inspired by the former President himself at the celebration of his 90th birthday in 2008, when he said:
“It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now”.
It certainly is within your hands to make a difference. There is a strong possibility that a worthy charity, non-profit organisation (NGO) or needy household is within a few minutes from your home. In your own small way, you can become a social activist by assisting these causes.
This is the core reason for the establishment of Mandela Day. On this day we should ask ourselves what we are doing to make our world a better place. We may not be able to replicate the actions of the great man himself but we can reflect his legacy in the way we live.This doesn’t depend on your income, background or social standing. Whether it be in the form of donating clothing to an orphanage, picking up litter in your neighbourhood or reporting social crimes such as abuse of women and children, you can make a difference.
In light of the Nelson Mandela Centenary Year, government, as well as a variety of NGOs and charities, are intensifying the activities they undertake to improve society.This means that South Africans have a better chance than ever before to support a worthy cause this Mandela Month.
Over and above improving the lives of others, social activism can have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing. Scientific research has found that finding and supporting a cause that speaks to you can create a sense of identity, purpose and empowerment.
Doing something meaningful also triggers ‘happy’ hormones such as dopamine, the primary chemical released when doing something pleasurable or rewarding.This gives us all the more reason to find ways of improving the conditions of our communities.
Mandela made clear that the legacy he wanted to leave was not one of self-service and seeking power. He called for humanity to live a life of serving others. But by doing so, we are also empowering ourselves, gaining a deeper understanding of adversity, and creating a better country in which to live.
As part of these efforts, Government Communication and Information System is intensifying communications around genderbased violence, professionalising the public service, anti-corruption and growing the economy, and creating jobs.This is our way of ensuring that we take all South Africans along on this journey of moving the country forward.
As Mandela said:“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
So go out this Mandela Day, seek out causes that are close to your heart and do whatever is within your means to help.
Phumla Williams, GCIS Acting Director-General.