Mandela Day is special day for South Africans to give back in honour of Nelson Mandela, but it is also a day that is shared with the whole world.
Even though it was South Africa that Nelson Mandela was trying to save, his humanitarian goals of justice and freedom for all have left a lasting legacy that is celebrated across the globe on Mandela Day.
As South Africans go about giving 67 minutes of their time to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela on Mandela Day, many people around the world are preparing to do the exact same thing.
Mandela was instrumental in bringing down apartheid in South Africa and was elected to be its first black president once freedom was achieved in 1994, but it was his ideals and steadfast dedication towards genuine equality that endeared him to people around the world.
Mandela Day tributes
His ability to forgive the oppressors that locked him up in jail for 26 years in order to forge ahead with his idea for a new South Africa almost beggars belief.
He is without a doubt one of the greatest South Africans ever born and likely one of the greatest humans ever to grace this earth.
It is no wonder that his legacy continues to be celebrated the world over and his memory invoked to remind people there is a better way to live.
United Nations Secretary-General
UN Chief António Guterres was one of the first international leaders to speak out on 2019’s Mandela Day, calling South Africa’s former president one of the most iconic and inspirational leaders of our time.
“Nelson Mandela exemplified courage, compassion and commitment to freedom, peace and social justice. He lived by these principles and was prepared to sacrifice his liberty and even his life for them.”
“As we work collectively for peace, stability, sustainable development and human rights for all, we would be well served to recall the example set by Nelson Mandela. Our best tribute is found in actions.”
Humanitarian Graça Machel
Mandela’s widow Graça Machel also took time out to reflect on the life of her late husband and what his legacy should mean to South Africa and the world.
“Mandela Day is a reminder that any one of us has the power to take initiative and drive transformation,” she said.
“We need to look at it as a pledge for the whole year that goes beyond one’s daily activities. Decide what is the difference I can make to people over the year so that it can become a way of being, not just an event.”
Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim
Leader of the People’s Justice Party, a centre-left multiracial party in Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim told of how Mandela once apologised to him for not helping him get out of prison sooner.
“He saw my children and suddenly he became very emotional, we were all disturbed, I tried to calm him down by making a small joke,” Ibrahim recounted.
“I said, ‘Madiba, relax, mine was a short road to freedom’. He smiled.
“He said, ‘Anwar, I’m sorry I was not able to help you’. I told him I knew he had done his best.”
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra
The granddaughter of the first, and to date only, female prime minister of India Indira Gandhi, Priyanka told of how she used to call Mandela uncle and that he also spotted her potential for politics before anyone else.
“The world misses men like #NelsonMandela more than ever today. His life was a testament to truth, love and freedom,” she posted to social media platform Twitter.
“To me, he was Uncle Nelson (who told me I ought to be in politics long before anyone else did!). He will always be my insipration and my guide.”