67 minutes in public service for Mandela
Nelson Mandela in February 2005. Photo: UN
To honour the peacemaker, the United Nations observed Monday — “Nelson Mandela International Day” — for the second year with the call for the people across the world to perform social service for 67 minutes.
The urge tallies every minute for every year of the 93-year-old former apartheid leader’s own service to humanity.
“Tutor a child. Feed someone less fortunate. Care for your environment. Volunteer at a hospital or community centre. Be a part of a global movement to make the world a better place,” the UN website said quoting secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.
On Nov 10, 2009, the UN General Assembly declared the day – Mandela’s birthday – in recognition of the former South African president’s contribution to the culture of “peace and freedom”.
The call is part of the “Take Action! Inspire Change” campaign by the Mandela Foundation.
Mandela, as a human rights lawyer, freedom fighter, prisoner of conscience and international peacemaker, is lauded for his philosophy which aims at changing the world and making it a better place.
“Together, we can help people achieve the dignity and liberty that are their birthright. That is the best way we can honour Nelson Mandela,” Ban stated in a statement.
The UN also recognises the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s long-standing commitment to promoting conflict resolution, race relations, human rights, reconciliation and gender equality.
Mandela, the great man who had suffered for the sake of people everywhere, also served 27-year imprisonment, most of which was spent in the notorious Robben Island detention centre off the coast of Cape Town.
After his release from prison in 1990, Mandela became the first president elected in a fully representative democratic ballot in post-apartheid South Africa, holding office from 1994 to 1999 in accordance with the country’s constitution.