Pretoria – Mandela Day is a reminder for people to help those who are in need, either because they are in poverty, conflict or face injustice.
“It is a reminder of a time where we have to make a life worth living for every single human being,” Graca Machel, the wife of late President Nelson Mandela said on Wednesday.
She was speaking during the launch of Mandela Day, in Tembisa.
This year’s Mandela Day will highlight education and literacy, food security, shelter and the environment.
Nelson Mandela International Day was established in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on 18 July 2009 via a unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly.
During today’s launch, Machel planted a tree and repackaged food at Dr Mathole Motshekga Primary School. Furthermore, the Nelson Mandela Foundation opened a library and donated books to the school.
Machel dismissed the notion that Mandela Day is used for commercial purposes with its significance not being realised.
“It is a symbolic way of reviving the humanity within ourselves to… help those who are in need.
“There are millions of people who are living the movement and it’s not commercial. It has changed their lives and the way they see themselves because they are making a difference in their communities,” Machel said.
She said only those who are not engaged in the day were cynical.
Machel called on pupils to honour her late husband by working hard in school.
“You must always challenge yourself to reach the best results in school. Don’t be happy with just a minimum pass. You have to pass with the highest marks in your life in each class that you are in,” she said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation Sello Hatang said the call for Mandela Day since 2009 to South Africans has been to take action, inspire change and make every day a Mandela Day.
He said the foundation is not just about 67 minutes or 18 July, but is about making every day a Mandela Day.
“In a country like ours, which has a lot of resources, it’s unacceptable to have one in four people going hungry every day.
“It’s unacceptable to have one in six children suffer from severe malnutrition. So I think if we join hands… we [can] respond to the call and make a difference in one life.
“It’s one life that can make have a ripple effect and in future, we will have a different world that Madiba dreamed of,” Hatang said.
He said in the last three years, the foundation has built 120 houses in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
The foundation has also opened about 90 libraries in the country.