The Mandela Day
The Nelson Mandela International Day is observed the
world over on18th July. The day was formally declared a global day on November
2009, by the United Nations General Assembly. On this day, everybody in the
world is supposed to use their power, time or whatever means at their disposal
to take action and effect some change.
To further solidify
the celebrations of the day, the global family is asked to take 67 minutes out
of the day on 18th July, a day that also doubles as Nelson Mandela’s
birthday and donate them to something that would transform the world. This is
because the originators of the 67 minutes campaign believed that each
individual has what it takes to make an impact. At the time of the declaration
of the global Mandela Day call to
action, Nelson Mandela had spent 67 years of his life making the world a better
place. The idea is that those 67 minutes each year, spent on Mandela Day represent more than just charity work, it is a
celebration of each person’s ability totake action and effect some change, even if only for 67 minutes
annually, on 18th July.
This year, a woman in
Cape Town has set a good example of interpreting what the annual 67 minutes campaign
means with her selfless action in commemoration of the Mandela day. Hear her, “Sometimes
bringing change into the world feels like an impossible task, so many
people are in dire need of help, and it’s overwhelming. Where do we even begin?
What do we change? I think about Nelson’s Mandela’s words: ‘It always feels
impossible until it is done.’ And when considering the immenseness of the task
of help, of change, I am inclined to lean towards small, practical,
sustainable, measurable actions. I guess that’s sort-of my thing …”
The story behind this
quote is that the person who wrote this Lorraine Loots, an artist based in Cape
Town is auctioning one of her paintings,
a painting of Mandela, in order to raise funds to help her house help who is a
single mother of four and an asylum seeker from Zimbabwe. Ms Loots has said on
her Instagram post that the highest bidder for the painting by 16:00 GMT+2 on
Thursday 25th July would win the beautiful 23mm x 27mm painting of
Tata Madiba. So far, the highest bid, in US dollars stands at $1400.
Loots continues to
explain the difficult life her house-help lives with her four dependent
children, in an area of Cape Town two hours out of town. She has to use the
train daily and usually the train is delayed putting her life and other
commuters at risk. The two-roomed house they live in, in an area that is crime
ridden is in dire need of repair and hardly enough accommodation for the
family. There are many reasons that put together, have given Loots’ the idea to raise money to fund her house-help
and her children to better accommodations, in a safer neighbourhood and nearer to her place of work.
In this story, I got
the picture of someone who has sat and thought long and hard about what she can
do to change the world. She found the world right there in her home and she set
out to do something for this one individual close to her heart and life. The house-help
maybe from another country, race and colour, but, she is a human being in
desperate need of assistance to change her life story. Relocating to a better
house may not be earth shattering to many of us, but for the needful person, it
is a life-changing action. Just because of this one action, the children
dependent on this lady may go to better schools and even have better
opportunities to better their own lives than they would should they remain in
the part of town they live in right now. Years later in the future, another
Nelson Mandela, this time of Zimbabwe origin may rise from this household and
he/she will tell the story of how the selfless act of the mother’s employer
changed their lives and destiny and gave them the leg-up they needed towards
the fulfilment of their destiny.
On the other hand, we
may never again hear of this family after Loots and her heroic action are
relegated to the archives of our minds and we see and hear other stories that
will grab our attention. Regardless, this particular action of this Cape Town
artist and her sacrifice to help in their hour of need, will remain edged on
this family’s hearts and minds for the rest of their lives. She will change
their lives, make their world a better place and affect change for them as a
family. She and her son will also benefit from the services of a more settled
in mind, physically comfortable and eternally grateful house-help.
I cannot find a more befitting example for the interpretation of the Mandela Day, 67 Minutes vision than the story that is yet unfolding in Cape Town. Here is hoping that Loots gets to raise enough for her project and some extra to make a complete change for this family. As for the rest of us South Africans and the world, may we all draw inspiration from the lessons her story offers.
Let’s make our 67 minutes count!