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Posted on on July 18th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Nelson Mandela honored with global call to serve – WorldWatch of CBS News.

written by Pamela Falk on Mandela’s birthday.

After first lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha and Malia met Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa last month, the first family kicked off the U.S. commemoration of Nelson Mandela International Day, created by the U.N. two years ago to mark the democracy icon’s birthday. {what I diversion from the daily ashes of Washington! – this is our comment}

“Madiba continues to be a beacon for the global community, and for all who work for democracy,  justice and reconciliation,” said Michelle Obama at the time, referring to Mandela by his nickname.

For 2011, the U.N. is marking Mandela Day, and Mandela’s 93rd birthday, with a request: 67 minutes of community service, from everyone, in honor of the man who has given so much himself. The “Take Action! Inspire Change” campaign for Nelson Mandela International Day asks communities to take just over an hour for community service to honor Mandela’s 67 years of service, which culminated in his election as the first democratically-elected president of a post-apartheid South Africa.

“Everybody remembers — and, indeed, needs — an inspirational figure who has played a signal role in their lives,” said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “Nelson Mandela has been that role model for countless people around the world.”

In 1993, Mandela, who was in prison for 27 years, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with then-President of South Africa FW de Klerk, for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new, democratic South Africa.

In South Africa, 12 million schoolchildren sang “Happy Birthday” to the elder statesman as classes began, and at U.N. Headquarters in New York, visitors are able to make their pledge to “67 minutes of service” in an open message that will be sent to Mandela. (You can also make the pledge on the Mandela Day website.)

In New York’s Central Park, South Africa’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador, Advocate Doc Mashabane Mashabane, is planning to paint park benches with the help of other volunteers.

Not tainting the day, U.S.-South Africa relations have soured recently over the issue of Libya and have been particularly edgy with the participation of South Africa as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

South African President Jacob Zuma has been critical of the U.N. resolution which is enabling the ongoing NATO bombing of Libya, which was meant to protect civilians.

“We strongly believe that the resolution is being abused for regime change, political assassinations and foreign military occupation,” Zuma charged recently.

Zuma was not available during the first lady’s trip to South Africa – widely seen as a missed opportunity, at best, and, at worst, a slight.

Along with Russia’s President Dmitri Medvedev, Zuma has been trying to negotiate an end to the Libya conflict between Qaddafi and the rebel umbrella group, the Transitional National Council, which the U.S. formally recognized this past week.

Regardless of current friction, Nelson Mandela International Day has taken off around the world in the two years since the U.N. created it.

“Mandela has been a lawyer and a freedom fighter, a political prisoner, a peacemaker and president,” the Secretary-General said, “A healer of nations and a mentor to generations, Nelson Mandela – or Madiba as he is affectionately known by millions – is a living symbol of wisdom, courage and integrity.”


Also, please see our article of last year: It started with:

Mandela Day 2010: Make SA work, and fix our schools.

July 14, 2010

Members of the public can donate money towards the restoration of local schools, as their way of commemorating Mandela Day 2010.

On July 18 this year, all South Africans have been invited to give 67 minutes of their time to projects that honour the life and spirit of Nelson Mandela.

The NGO Men On the Side of the Road (MSR) has thrown its full support behind the Mandela Day campaign. MSR is a marketplace for casual workers where men gather at organised collection points in seven cities across South Africa.

MSR has decided to focus on the restoration of schools, as a way of linking with the education theme of this year’s Mandela Day.

“Not everyone can give their time to the Mandela Day campaign. Instead, why not donate 67 minutes of their earnings,” suggested Peter Kratz, national director for MSR. “Our registered painters and builders in seven cities can be called in to fix local schools in dire need of a facelift. The money donated by members of the public will make this restoration work possible and cover the costs of hiring workers and purchasing materials.”

Customers in seven cities can visit MSR collection points if they are looking for workers, on a part time or contract basis, that are able, trustworthy and skilled in particular areas. MSR have verified all their skills and workers have identity cards on them at all time.

With unemployment at critical levels, the MSR aims to facilitate the placement of skilled and semi skilled workers in part-time or full-time work. For as little as R120 per day potential employers can hire a reliable and trustworthy worker.

Kratz hopes that members of the public will nominate a school in their community which is in need of restoration work. The money they donate will be used for work on that specific school, to help make quality education a reality for its learners.

Donations can be deposited at Standard Bank, account name MEN ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, account number 070-956-383 (reference MD).

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