The Nelson Mandela International Day also popularly known as Mandela Day is an annual celebration in the honour of Nelson Mandela. The United Nations officially declared his birthday which falls on 18 July to be celebrated internationally since 2009. The day marks a tribute to South Africa's former president for his values, legacy and contribution to society. Even though his birthday is observed internationally, it is not a public holiday.
About Nelson Mandela
Born in Transkei, South Africa, on 18 July, 1918, he became to be known as one of the most popular anti-apartheid activists in the country. He was jailed in 1964 for spearheading the liberation movement against apartheid and for the stand he took on the human right to live in freedom.
His prisoner number was 466 in a prison on Robben Island, off Cape Town in South Africa. As the prisoners were never called by their names, but rather by their numbers and year of imprisonment "'46664' became Nelson Mandela's number. He was imprisoned there for 18 years. His release encouraged fed political debates in the country and contributed to South Africa's transition towards a multi-racial democracy.
Mandela continued addressing the then racial issues in his country and supported reconciliation initiatives.
In 1994, he was elected as South Africa's president and served the country till 1999. He became South Africa's first black president. Mandela shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former South African president Frederik Willem de Klerk who was also involved in releasing Mandela from the prison.
The first Mandela Day was launched in New York on July 18, 2009, but the UN's resolution to declare the day occurred later that year. On November 10, 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring July 18 as "Nelson Mandela International Day". The day marks Nelson Mandela's contribution to peace through his active involvement in resolving conflicts, promoting human rights, international democracy and reconciliation, and in addressing racial issues.
How do people observe the day?
As Nelson Mandela Day not only celebrates Mandela's life, but is also regarded as a global call of action for every individual to recognize their ability to have a positive effect on others around them. The day is an attempt to inspire people to practice values including democracy, freedom, equality, diversity, reconciliation, and respect.
Several people and organisations all around the world take part in activities to observe this day. These activities include volunteering, sport, art, education, music and culture. Apart from these, various events are also held on or around July 18 to honour Mandela's works to promote projects inspired by Mandela's achievements.
Mandela Day also promotes a campaign known as '46664'- which was Mandela's Robben Island prison number. Originally launched to raise awareness around HIV/AIDS its focus expanded to broader humanitarian work.