67 Minutes: A special day in honour of Nelson Mandela.
It was a world at war. Airplanes, used for the very first time in combat, were spitting fire in the skies over Europe. Men were charging over the top from trenches straight into machine gun fire. Mustard gas was wafting orange destruction over the battlefield. All the while one of history’s worst pandemics was spreading from person to person. This was the world Nelson Mandela was born into.
Nelson Mandela stood against injustice.
Conflict. Fitting, as for much of his life, he was part of a conflict on many fronts called The Struggle (against Apartheid). He stood up against injustice, and paid the price, sacrificing many years of his life in a prison cell, held by those trying to prop up an evil system.
He was one of the young men who approached venerable Chief Albert Luthuli to convince him that Apartheid needed to be fought with iron and fire. That fire lit many other fires, across the globe, leading to a world united in its unacceptance of Apartheid. He became the symbol of The Struggle, a flag rallying countries to stand against this corrosive, evil system.
When Nelson Mandela was finally released from his prison, he paved the way to a new South Africa, with one of the world’s most admired constitutions. Set to ensure no one was ever subject to gross injustices because of their race, religion, creed, or ethnicity again.
Leading by example.
Leading us as president of the country, his sense of reconciliation helped South Africans beginto heal from painful divisions, though many of those still exist today.
His greatest contribution, it could be argued, was imbuing in us a sense of kindness: wanting to help our fellows through acts of charity. Whether that charity is our resources or time.
Nelson Mandela retired from government after only one term. He had no interest in power, rather facilitating it to the benefit of the country. Ironically, he hadn’t yet retired from the world stage; he became our best ambassador, engaging in efforts to raise investment in South Africa, and to raise money for charity. Particularly, he is known for his devotion towards children’s causes. In fact, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital – which caters for young South Africans in need of help from life-threatening diseases – would never have existed if not for him.
The legacy of Nelson Mandela.
In 2009, the United Nations declared 18 July International Nelson Mandela Day. A day we were to give 67 minutes of our time to help those in need. Since then, South Africans, and peoples the world over, have celebrated this day by following his example.
Tomorrow is that day. The world we live in is a desperate one. Many people struggle: the old live in dilapidated old age homes; children who’ve been abandoned are cared for in orphanages; poverty-stricken long for a hearty meal; and the mentally-affected long for someone to lean on.
How to be like Nelson Mandela.
There are so many things a person can do for their 67 minutes.
Go to an old age home, paint the walls, listen as a person from another time and place tells you their life story.
Visit an orphanage, play with the toddlers and young children. They’re so fond of visitors, it’s as close to a family as they get.
Go to a soup kitchen, treating those without a home to call their own to a warm meal. All the while meeting their eyes, making them feel recognised as a person.
Volunteer on a help-line. Await the phone to ring, where on the other end is someone desperate for a kind voice. A voice that might keep them from doing something unimaginable.
It’s what Nelson Mandela would do. It was his way. His heart, larger than most, beat for humanity. Through our actions, through our endeavours, the father of our nation’s heart beats on.
What will you do tomorrow? How will you keep his spirit going?
Because we owe it to him to keep his legacy alive.