What does Mandela Day mean following Madiba’s death?

2014-07-11 16:06
Nelson Mandela (file, AFP)

Nelson Mandela (file, AFP)

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Cape Town - As we approach the first Mandela Day since the passing of Madiba, News24 asks the Nelson Mandela Foundation to share its thoughts on what his legacy means today.

We would also like to know if you think anything has changed since the nation laid Madiba to rest, and what Mandela Day means for you this year?

You can share your thoughts by uploading, or e-mailing.

Here, the Foundation tells News24 what it will be focusing on this Mandela Day.


This is a time of reflection – we remember those who sacrificed so much to bring us democracy. We salute those who work tirelessly to build it. And we commit ourselves, in the name of Nelson Mandela’s legacy, to growing democracy through the promotion of social justice.

As we progress in actively addressing and learning from the legacy of apartheid, we are drawing deeply on the experience of those who learnt before us but we need to embrace our own futures.


This journey is our shared responsibility as we navigate through the excitement and complexity of a collective past and simultaneously a current global, modern world.  

Madiba’s legacy transformed contestants into stakeholders. It was, and is, about acknowledging and recognising turning points and the opportunity to affect change.

So we need to be both visionaries and realists – committed to change but concerned with the practical implementation of our vision.
But this needs to be embraced and owned particularly by our children, our youth.


Nelson Mandela handed over the baton of leadership to the nation and more importantly to our young leaders like yourselves.

He says in the Long Walk to Freedom: “I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended”.

We would like for a moment to shift the focus to significance of learning and thus education in this regard – this has been part of your growth and success and is intrinsic to Thebe’s contribution towards realising a better South Africa.

We find ourselves with education in South Africa today in a rather tricky position - Is it the teachers, is it the lack of books, is it the simple excuse of circumstances, is it the low government standards for education created by, for example, the low pass rate – what  prevents youth  today from moving forward and succeeding?


What is the mindset that we are nurturing and perpetuating that  allows such a situation? Do we sit back and wait or do we sit – up and do?

Remember we are responsible for a legacy that is about taking ownership, never settling for mediocrity in to a culture of mediocrity and representing us well as future leaders.

As Mandela said: “Children of today are the leaders of tomorrow and education is a very important weapon to prepare children for their future roles as leaders of the community.”


South Africa’s democratic vision is about making it possible to give our youth a fighting chance. To give every person (in fact) the opportunity to try.

Education is still the foundation of this opportunity. And the most basic building block that holds that foundation together is still literacy.

At the dawn of the 21st century, in a world where knowledge truly is power and literacy is the skill that unlocks the gates of opportunity and success, we all have a responsibility as parents, as caregivers, as educators, as leaders and as citizens, to instill in our children the critical drive for literacy and learning so that we can give them the chance to fulfill their dreams.

What are your thoughts on Madiba’s legacy today? How will you be honouring the late Mandela? What does Mandela Day mean for you following his death?

  - Share your thoughts and be featured on News24, by uploading, or e-mailing.

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