Nelson Mandela Day: Celebrating the Legacy of a True Leader

July 18th marks Nelson Mandela International Day, a day to honour the life and legacy of the former President of South Africa and anti-apartheid revolutionary. This day is a testament to Mandela's unwavering commitment to fighting for freedom, equality, and human rights. Here, we will explore some of his most inspiring quotes and reflect on the significance of his contributions to the world.

The Inspiring Life of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, born on July 18, 1918, in the village of Mvezo in Umtata, then part of South Africa's Cape Province, was a revolutionary anti-apartheid leader and the first Black president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. Mandela was a member of the Thembu royal family and studied law at the University of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand. He became involved in the African National Congress (ANC) in 1943, co-founding its Youth League.

Mandela's activism against the apartheid regime led to his arrest and subsequent trial in 1962, resulting in a sentence of life imprisonment in 1964. He spent 27 years in prison, primarily on Robben Island. His imprisonment became a symbol of resistance against racial segregation and injustice.

Released in 1990 amid growing domestic and international pressure, Mandela played a pivotal role in the peaceful transition from apartheid to a multiracial democracy. In 1993, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with then-President F.W. de Klerk for their efforts in dismantling apartheid.

Mandela's presidency was marked by efforts to reconcile the nation and promote social and economic progress. He established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. After leaving the presidency, he remained active in various social and human rights causes until his death on December 5, 2013. Nelson Mandela's legacy endures as a global icon of peace, justice, and human dignity.


Mandela's Quotes: A Reflection of His Vision

Mandela's quotes are a testament to his unwavering optimism and his unshakeable commitment to the values of compassion, forgiveness, and unity. Here are a few of his most notable quotes:

  • Love and Compassion

            "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

This quote highlights Mandela's understanding that hate is a learned behaviour and that love is a natural inclination. It emphasizes the importance of teaching love and compassion to overcome the barriers that divide us.

  • Overcoming Challenges

            "It always seems impossible until it’s done."

This quote captures Mandela's determination and resilience in the face of adversity. It reminds us that even the most daunting challenges can be overcome with persistence and dedication.

  • Education and Empowerment

            "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

Mandela recognized the transformative power of education in shaping individuals and societies. He believed that education was essential for empowering people to make a positive impact on the world.

  • Forgiveness and Unity

            "For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

This quote underscores Mandela's commitment to the idea that true freedom is not just about personal liberation but also about respecting and enhancing the freedom of others. It highlights the importance of unity and collective action in achieving a more just and equitable society.


The Significance of Nelson Mandela Day                      

Nelson Mandela, the revered South African leader, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, left an indelible mark on the world. His unwavering commitment to justice, equality, and human rights continues to inspire people across the globe. Each year on July 18th, the world celebrates Nelson Mandela International Day, honouring his life and legacy. The United Nations General Assembly declared July 18th as Nelson Mandela International Day in 2009, recognizing Mandela's "values and his dedication to the service of humanity in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the upliftment of the poor and the underdeveloped." This day is an opportunity for people everywhere to engage in acts of service and make a positive difference in their communities. In the United States, Nelson Mandela Day is observed with a variety of events and initiatives.

Celebrating the Legacy of a Global Icon

Many organizations and communities use this day to reflect on Mandela's teachings and put them into practice. For example, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, in partnership with the United Nations, often organizes educational programs, panel discussions, and volunteer activities to engage the public. One of the most powerful ways to celebrate Nelson Mandela Day in the US is by reflecting on his iconic quotes and using them to inspire personal and societal transformation. As Mandela once said, "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." This sentiment of embracing diversity, compassion, and understanding is at the heart of Mandela's legacy.

Another way to honour Mandela's memory is by engaging in acts of service and community upliftment. Mandela believed that "it is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it." We can volunteer their time and resources to support local organizations, participate in food drives, clean up public spaces, or mentor underprivileged youth - all in the spirit of Mandela's commitment to making the world a better place. In addition to these grassroots efforts, some US cities and states have official proclamations and events to commemorate Nelson Mandela Day. For instance, the city of New York has hosted annual celebrations, including cultural performances, educational workshops, and panel discussions on Mandela's life and impact. As the world continues to grapple with complex challenges, the lessons and values embodied by Nelson Mandela remain as relevant as ever. By embracing his message of unity, compassion, and social justice, Americans can contribute to the ongoing struggle for a more equitable and just society. Nelson Mandela Day is a powerful reminder that each of us could make a difference, one small act at a time.

A Recipe for Unity and Joy

In the spirit of Mandela's dedication to community and service, we invite you to celebrate this special day by sharing meals, stories, and love with those around you. Cooking and enjoying food together are a powerful way to connect, reflect, and give thanks.

Here are some quick and meaningful recipes that can be shared during community events or enjoyed with friends and family in celebration:

  1. Madiba's Favorite Chicken Curry


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish



  1. Sauté the onions, garlic, and ginger in a large pot until fragrant.
  2. Add the chicken and brown on all sides.
  3. Stir in the curry powder and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes and coconut milk, then simmer for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.


  1. South African Bobotie


  • 500g ground beef or lamb
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 slice of bread, soaked in milk
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Sauté the onion and garlic in a large skillet until softened.
  3. Add the ground meat and cook until browned.
  4. Mix in the curry powder, apricot jam, and soaked bread.
  5. Stir in one beaten egg, raisins, salt, and pepper.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish, place the bay leaves on top, and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Beat the remaining egg with a little milk, pour over the bobotie, and bake for another 15 minutes until set.

A Message of Gratitude

On Nelson Mandela Day, let us continue to draw inspiration from Mandela's life and legacy and work together to build a better world for all.

Together, we can continue to celebrate the values that Mandela stood for and create a legacy of our own.

Wishing you all a joyful and meaningful Nelson Mandela Day.

Share this post