Thursday July 18 marks the ninth annual Mandela Day, an internationally recognised celebration of Nelson Mandela chosen to coincide with the late statesman’s birthday.
First declared in November 2009 by the United Nations (UN), the first official Mandela Day took place in 2010.
While there are, obviously, many ways one could celebrate Mandela Day, the “traditional” method is to spend 67 minutes performing acts of charity around the community. This represents the 67 years Nelson Mandela spent fighting apartheid.
Encouraging people to get more involved in their communities is certainly noble. In a country as ravaged by inequality as ours, we always need more people helping out their fellow citizens.
That said, we must not let ourselves think taking one hour out of one day of the year to be charitable is enough.
There’s a rather annoying viewpoint I’ve seen crop up increasingly that seems to think performing once-off acts of charity every now and then is all that’s needed.
Such people will gladly take part in one or two “big” charity events – like Mandela Day – but then not do anything else for the rest of the year.
Yet, charity cannot be something you only do once in a while. To truly make a difference requires a lot of time and effort, certainly much more than just 67 minutes.
I’m not trying to shame anyone here or suggest that celebrating Mandela Day is pointless. By all means, do your bit on Thursday and help out where you can.
Just remember to carry that same spirit to the rest of the year, too.