Accra, 17 July 2014 – For the fifth consecutive year on the 18th of July – the day Nelson Mandela was born –the United Nations supports a call by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to devote 67 minutes of our time to help others, as a way to mark Nelson Mandela International Day. This year, the world commemorates the Day for the first time without this world icon, who promoted the use of time for the good of humanity when he said “We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right”.
It has been seven months since Madiba, one of the greatest leaders in modern history, bowed out of this world stage of despair, opportunities, challenges, hope and possibilities. But it feels like just yesterday when the world, through the eyes of the media, besieged the residence of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, to hear and see the breaking story of his passing.
As the world keeps celebrating his life, it is only appropriate, and justifiably so, that we reflect on his perspective of time to also use our time wisely for the good of humanity. Mandela devoted 67 years of his life to the service of humanity – as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa. He founded the “rainbow nation” out of the ruins of a deeply segregated apartheid society that many considered to be on the verge of civil war at the time. Through the spirit of reconciliation, guided by peace rather than vengeance, with visions of an inclusive future rather than retrospective resentment, Nelson Mandela touched not only the hearts of his country men and women, but people from all corners of the earth.