Is once a year really enough? Taking Mandela Day beyond 67 minutes

Nelson Mandela Day logo
Nelson Mandela Day logo

Nelson Mandela Day is observed internationally as a day to pledge 67 minutes to improve someone else’s life. But is 67 minutes of doing good enough to make a real impact?

Various activists and charity organisations believe not.

Bongiwe Ndlovu from public innovation and leadership incubator Activate! said acts such as visiting charity organisations for 67 minutes and disappearing are “Band-Aid solutions”. She emphasised that “67 minutes is not a true reflection of [Nelson Mandela’s] legacy”.

Ndlovu spearheads the campaign A! Dare, which is calling for South Africans to carry on the spirit of Mandela’s Legacy throughout the year and commit to change post Mandela Day.

“We are calling on South Africa to continue the legacy of Mandela beyond July 18, because South Africa needs more than 67 minutes on one day,” she said.

“Sometimes we mean well but are we really solving a problem?” asked Ndlovu.

And there are other organisations that share this sentiment. Since 2015, Rape Crisis has challenged people to give more than 67 minutes on one day. The organisation initially said that “it would be easy to use Mandela Day as a checkmark for your civic duty of the year. However, we at Rape Crisis want to challenge you to continue that journey past Mandela Day, past those 67 minutes that you gave of yourself.”

This year Rape Crisis continued the mantra. The organisation said: “67 minutes should inspire sustainable change. The importance of giving beyond 67 minutes is that it does not just end there, and that every day is an opportunity to help and inspire others ... Our country is a reminder that we should always be aware of giving back and building a better future together.”

Even the Nelson Mandela Foundation has slightly changed its tune, making the shift to “make every day a Mandela Day” and fight against poverty, unemployment and inequality.

“Mandela Day has made a strategic shift towards better ensuring that its focus on making every day a Mandela Day has increased sustainability, reach and impact,” the foundation stated.

The foundation reminded South Africans about the spirit of Mandela Day.

“Our intention is to eradicate poverty from the face of the Earth. We have to be that bold,” said Nelson Mandela Foundation spokesperson, Luzuko Koti.


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