In the lead up to Nelson Mandela International Day, the United Nations Communications Group-South Africa created a Mandela Day Task Force, chaired by the UN Information Centre (UNIC). The Task Force commissioned two pull-up banners of the Nelson Mandela poster and a large vinyl banner of the Nelson Mandela postcard that was installed onto the United Nations House in Pretoria. The pull-up banners were used at the Nelson Mandela International Day commemoration and for a UNDP partnership with South African Airways on a Nelson Mandela Youth Summit in Johannesburg and the Eastern Cape.
The Mandela Day Task Force identified several beneficiaries/charities for which outreach activities were organized, including ten two-hour-long computer literacy workshops for teachers and students of under-resourced schools in the Soshanguve township, Pretoria. The workshops took place at Andrews Academy and Bidvest Soccer Academy in Johannesburg. A winter blanket drive was launched among UN staff, which collected more than 200 blankets that were donated to non-governmental organizations, including the Tshwane Leadership Foundation.
On 18 July, UN staff and guests, including international volunteers from the Mohau Children’s Home, participated in a commemoration at the UNIC Library. The event featured a Nelson Mandela exhibition that was installed by the UNIC; the screening of the UN Secretary-General’s message as well as of the short film Nelson Mandela in the United Nations; a poetry performance by poet Vangile Gantsho; and the premiere of the YouTube video clip, created by the Mandela Task Force, in which UN staff in South Africa paid tribute to Nelson Mandela’s legacy and explained how they planed to commemorate the day.
The Task Force encouraged UN staff to join the call by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and devote 67 minutes of their time to helping others. Several outreach activities were organized on the Day that ranged from revamping, reorganizing and painting the playground facilities at the Mohau Children’s Home, donating comforters for beds, new clothes and cleaning the premises of the Miriam Makeba Home for Girls, organizing the filing system and cleaning the premises of Potters House to donating laundry soap for the Limpopo Clinic.
The tribute to “Madiba” acknowledged how he devoted 67 years of his life to public service, as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa. Nelson Mandela International Day is a reminder to take action, inspire change and make every day a Mandela Day.