Mandela Day is the one day that mobilises thousands of South Africans to contribute to their local communities and participate in community projects in their surroundings. Under the slogan, “67 Minutes for Mandela Day,” people are requested to make a difference in the lives of those that are less fortunate. But what happens after Mandela Day? And do any of the activities even do justice to the legacy of Nelson Mandela?
Nelson Mandela stood out for his commitment to social justice and his fight to promote a society that offers equal rights for all its members.
Staff at the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Community Engagement Office often notice that most people are not aware of the difference between charity and the engagement for social justice. What has been observed currently is that during Mandela Day, people make acts of charity that although beneficial, do not question, challenge or engage with the status quo of our society. Nelson Mandela’s commitment to society was an ongoing one, with an understanding that as members of society, it should not just be a choice, but a responsibility to contribute positively to society.
“We therefore consider it important for all of us to reconsider the meaning of Nelson Mandela and of Mandela Day and to reconsider our commitment and engagement in society. To ask ourselves, what responsibilities do we have as members of a society, how can we contribute to communities in a lasting way, how can we promote real and ongoing social justice and how can we engage people around Mandela Day in a lasting way that will not only change their local community for 67 minutes, but for the whole year,” says Ms Ernestine Meyer-Adams, Head: Community Engagement at UJ.
Mandela Day at UJ:
Participating in Mandela Day on 18 July is not just a norm but a responsibility at UJ. Mandela 100 will see the participation of 100s of staff and students contributing 100 hours in communities in honour of keeping the Mandela legacy alive. The University’s eight faculties, a college, and the divisions will embark on projects earmarked for the 18th of July this year. The theme, #ActionAgainstPoverty, endorsed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, is adhered to and will be the focus for the UJ community.
A programme of action for each of the four campuses highlights the activations and community outreach projects that people have committed to do in the spirit of Ubuntu. The life of Nelson Mandela echoed UJ’s values; Imagination, Conversation, Regeneration and Ethical Foundation. Madiba inspired South Africans to imagine a better future. He taught us that conversation is powerful and that people can accomplish more by talking to each other. Regeneration reinforces the belief that there can be growth and Ethical Foundation vividly embraces the life that Tata Madiba lived.