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.

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