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This is how Nelson Mandela’s legacy continues to inspire the world


Megan Gieske is a storyteller and photographer based in Cape Town, South Africa.

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela

Every year on July 18th, people across the globe celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday and contributions to the world by spending 67 minutes — representing the 67 years he fought for human rights during his lifetime — making a difference in the lives of others.

Mandela began campaigning for the rights of all South Africans in 1942 and continued the fight as a human rights lawyer and, later, as a prisoner for freedom on Robben Island. He went on to become an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

His life has been an inspiration to the world. The Nelson Mandela Foundation asks that we “Take action. Inspire change.” — and people are taking the call to heart. Here’s how communities are celebrating Mandela Day this year:

South Africa
Family and friends gather together and look back on what has been done and forward to what will be done, making every day a Nelson Mandela Day.

Gugulethu, South Africa
Ntombi brings the spirit of Nelson Mandela to her community by starting gardens in people’s homes, educating students on proper nutrition, and sharing with visitors to her country the abundance of Africa. She says, “If you ever [need] joy in your life, give without expecting any returns. The joy of other people is fulfilling to the heart.”

Langa, South Africa
Siviwe says, “When you think you have nothing to give that is when you should give.” He is celebrating his birthday, July 18th, along with Nelson Mandela by bringing volunteers to paint colourful murals on the dark grey walls of local townships and bringing educational “iThuba” or opportunities in Xhosa to the underprivileged schools.

Accra, Ghana
Students put on a drama performance on the fight for freedom in South Africa.

Yaounde, Cameroon
Secondary school students watch an education film on becoming “Mandela’s friends” by inspiring change in their community.

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Donation ceremonies were held for orphanages to have food, medicine, and school supplies.

Jakarta, Indonesia

Female leaders gather to host a summit on gender equality.

Windhoek, Namibia
Girls at a Muay Thai club studied self-defense and encouraged themselves to help the world find solutions to end violence against women and girls and protect human rights.

Here are a few ways you can give back this Nelson Mandela Day:

  • Learn more about Nelson Mandela and his mission by watching Nelson Mandela’s Life Story with friends
  • Inspire understanding and community by getting to know someone from another culture or background
  • Join us and support girls’ education

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