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Mandela Day - Ways to Celebrate

Updated on July 30, 2015
Celebrating Nelson Mandela Day
Celebrating Nelson Mandela Day | Source

Who was Nelson Mandela?

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (AKA Madiba) was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election in 1994. He was also the first non-European president of South Africa. He was born on the 18th July 1918 in South Africa. Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist and the leader of the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC).

In 1962 he was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges and sentenced to life in prison. Mandela served 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on Robben Island and Victor Verster prison, until he was released on the 11th February 1990. Upon his release from prison, Mandela was elected (as head of the ANC), and became the first black president of South Africa (1994 - 1999). His tolerance, grace and judgement to the handling of the dismantlement of the Apartheid government and transition to a democratic multicultural country gained him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Mandela never forgot his past but he forgave and focused on creating a positive, united future for the all races and cultures within South Africans. Nelson Mandela leaves his legacy as the godfather of neo-Apartheid South Africa, firmly established.

Neo-Apartheid, is the division of people, not based on skin color or race; but based on what you have or do not have as: MONEY.

Why celebrate Mandela Day?

On the 18th of July it was officially named Nelson Mandela International Day, by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009. The Nelson Mandela Foundation wants South Africans to celebrate the day, by spending 67 minutes, in honor of Madiba's own 67 years of service to Humanity by doing something good for other people. The aim of this Remembrance Day, is for people everywhere to take responsibility for making the world a better place, one small step at a time, just as Nelson Mandela did. Mandela’s values and what he stood for are not only values for South Africans, but are values for all of humanity.”

Community Service
Community Service | Source

Find a List of All registered Charities in:

South Africa:

America -

United Kingdom -

Canada -

Australia -

67 ideas on how you can celebrate

Celebrate Mandela Day with a group of friends, colleagues or family:

1.Hold a ‘Donations’ Party for all of your friends and family – entrance is tinned food, blankets, toiletries, etc. And then you can drop off those items at your charity of choice.

2.Challenge your colleagues, family members, friends, and even your business competitors to raise funds or donate goods towards a charity.

3.Make a difference and help to clean up the beaches. This could be an opportunity for the whole family to get involved in making our planet cleaner.

4.Plant a vegetable garden. This is a great way to get the kids involved in growing their own vegetables.

5.Get a group of volunteers together to either build or refurbish a playground in your local community.

6.Help build a home with Habitat for Humanity. Individuals and organisations are asked to donate their time or money. Volunteers don’t have to be experts and can expect to get involved with tasks like cement mixing, brick passing and plastering and bagging walls.

7.Remove and paint over graffiti in your community.

8.Hold a Toy and Teddy Bear drive for abused and neglected children. There are so many children who don’t have the luxuries of toys.

9.Start a book club in your area. This is a great way to meet people and unite communities.

10.Coach a children's sports team or play sports with your kids - Studies have shown that kids and teens who are active in sports are not only happier and healthier, they also do better in school. Playing a sport with a child is a great way to encourage them to be outdoors and exercise, but as a parent, making time for your child is great way to strengthen your relationship and encourage communication.

11.Mentor a young person. There are many children without positive role models. By giving a little of your time, you can change a child’s life forever.

12.Learn to be a peer counselor. If you have the world of patience and the passion to help, then this is the perfect option for you! It is so rewarding to make a positive difference in someone’s life.

Keep our beaches clean
Keep our beaches clean | Source

Want can you do as an individual?

13.Get a MySchool/MyVillage card from Woolworths and swipe it at all participating stores. It doesn’t cost you a thing and Woolworths will donate a percentage of your purchases to a charity / school of your choice. This is a gift that keeps giving.

14.Purchase a Casual Day Sticker in support of persons with disabilities from All monies go to the charity.

15.Cook or buy a meal for the homeless. Our winters are cold and our homeless people need warming food to help them sustain the cold.

16.Donate educational materials to charities such as Breadline Africa, which is an internationally registered charity based in South Africa, who aims to better the lives of the less fortunate by converting old shipping containers into essential community structures, like schools, libraries and health clinics.

17.Help Stop Hunger Now SA package meals for children. Stop Hunger SA invites all organizations, corporate companies and individuals to donate 67 minutes of their time on Mandela Day to put together packs containing soy, rice, mixed vegetables and a vitamin-rich supplement. These food boxes will be enough to provide three meals a week for one pupil throughout the school year. Get more information and register online at

18.Spend time with the elderly at your local retirement village. The community and anyone with time to spare, are encouraged spend that time with the elderly.

19.Save the world, one sandwich at a time. Buy a loaf of bread, a chunk of cheese, and a few tomatoes, then make a couple of sandwiches and hand them out to those in need on your way to work. You could make this venture even simpler: buy a big bag of whichever fruit is in season (it’s normally cheaper, and more delicious), and do the same. Rather give food than money to those in need.

20.Volunteer your time for the Operation Smile awareness campaign at local malls. Operation Smile is an organization that provides free surgeries to children and adults born with cleft lips and palates. Volunteers are required to hand out flyers, assist people in signing-up, decorate dolls and spread the word. There will also be a collection drive for mirrors, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, stationary and adult patient gowns. Go to for more information.

21.Love your Neighbor. Do you live next door to a single parent? Why don’t you see if you can babysit for an evening? Or perhaps visit your lonely, elderly pensioner for a cup of tea and while you’re there, change blown light bulbs, or give them a hand with another household chore that needs attention. The trick here is to keep your eyes open, and to notice the people around you.

22.Help out at your local Animal Rescue Group. These shelters look after abandoned and abused domestic animals, and the facility need constant up-keep and maintenance. Volunteers can come paint, clean and help with maintenance and repairs to the building; otherwise, the doggies and kitties could do with some exercise, grooming and extra love. Local Animal Rescue Groups also accept donations (monetary, food, bedding, etc.)

23.Give the gift of life. Donate blood at your local hospital, and you’ll feel dizzy with the knowledge that you’ve potentially saved someone’s life; a single donation could aid up to three people in need and only takes about 30 minutes. To find a blood drive in your area on Mandela Day, visit the Western Province Blood Transfusion Service site or call +27 (0)21 507 6300.

24.Become an Organ Donor, there are currently thousands of South African citizens waiting for life-saving organ donations, so take the time to register with the Organ Donor Foundation (+27 (0)800 22 66 11).

25.Minimize your negative impact on the environment. Start by spending your 67 minutes implementing a recycling system for your rubbish: separate your food waste from your solid waste, create a container for the recyclable items and consider making a worm farm to compost your biodegradable left-overs. Install solar panels so your geyser can run on renewable energy and buy a geyser blanket to reduce the amount of power needed to heat the water. Find ways to limit the amount of water you use, such as installing Eco-friendly taps and shower heads that minimize flow.

26.Plant a tree. Greenpop is a Cape Town-born social enterprise is devoted to raising environmental awareness, planting in under-greened communities and combating climate change. Volunteers can help plant trees at schools, creches, orphanages or similar institutions. Contact for more information.

27.Donate clothes and blankets to homeless shelters.

28.Organise a canned food drive

29.Make “Care” Kits which contain combs, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. for the homeless

30.Hold a party for an orphanage

31.Do a sponsored event, such as a walk / run/ cycle whereby all monies are given to a charity.

32.Offer to be a ‘handyman’ for the day. You can offer this service to local community centers, retirement villages or schools.

33.Visit the oncology unit at your local hospital or go to your closest ‘Safe House/Haven’ and spend time playing with the kids. It will really make a huge impact on their lives; as well as on yours.

34.Organise a tea party or small celebration to thank all the care givers, at your local home for retired people. It is important to show them that what they do every day, does not go, unnoticed.

35.Adopt a pet from your local animal shelter. There are so many amazing animals which are looking for a loving home and family.

36.Take clothing and blankets down to the Salvation Army

37.Donate books to your local library. Libraries are open to everyone, especially those who do not have the luxury of computers and internet. By donating books it is encouraging people to read, inspiring children to learn to read and promoting education.

38.Offer to houses-it or pet sit for your neighbors while they go on holiday.

39.Donate old magazines to a home for retired people. It is really important for them to stimulate their minds and buy providing them with new reading materials, this will definitely put a smile on their face.

40.Pick up groceries or medicine for an elderly person. This is a really convenient option because chances are you are going to the supermarket anyway, why not just offer to assist someone who is less mobile than you are.

41.Teach a senior friend how to use a computer and the Internet. Modern technology has advanced drastically in the past decade and for seniors, it can be quite daunting not knowing who to use the computer or their smartphone. Take some time out to show them the basics, this will make a huge difference in their life.

42.Tutor a student that needs help learning English

43.Donate your old computer to a school. Give our future the chance to learn about technology, even if the computers do not work properly, many schools actually teach students to take apart and rebuild computers. A handy skill for our future.

44.Give up your seat on the bus or train to someone

45.Go for a walk with a senior citizen in your community

46.Bake cookies and take them to a police station for the police officers working grave yard shifts

47.Write a letter to an editor about an issue you care about or Blog about a charity that needs support

48.Use your skills (finance, marketing, customer service) to help a charity run more efficiently

49.Smile at everyone you see...Smiling at a stranger will brighten that person’s day, immensely.

50.Knit a Scarf - Knitting can be a great way to build community. Often schools, churches, knitting and craft stores, and even some towns offer knitting clubs. Not to mention you'll be helping keep others warm when you give your knitting away!

51.Be a Designated Driver - Being the one to step up and take the initiative to be a designated sober driver could prevent a dangerous accident. Drinking and driving is one of the major causes of road deaths on our highways. Help prevent road deaths!

52.Stop Negative Conversations - You will find yourself becoming more and more positive about life, as you focus on positive situations and thoughts. Having a positive outlook will also encourage others to become more positive.

53.Give Affirmation - Positive affirmations are very powerful tools. They change how we think and feel about ourselves, which will then help us transform our attitudes and actions with others. When we think positively about ourselves, our perspectives change and we are more able to see the positive in others.

54.Take someone to the movies - You will get to spend quality time with the person you take getting to and from the movie.

55.Give directions to a stranger who is lost- Helping other people find their way will only add to your own knowledge of your surroundings.

56.Say ‘Thank You’ to your Bus or Taxi Driver - Bus and taxi drivers, along with others in service-related professions, often have to deal with unhappy or rude customers. By being kind and courteous to your hard-working driver, hopefully you’ll be able to make up for the bad experiences they have had with impolite customers.

57.Read To The Elderly - Not only will you be making someone happy, but you can learn a lot about life from someone who has lived much longer than you. Perhaps they will be able to tell you their own stories, about things they witnessed in their lifetimes.

58.Compliment Someone - Whenever you see someone wearing a nice outfit or jewellery, give her/him a compliment. This always brings a smile to their face and gives you a nice feeling. It's a little thing but can really light up someone's day when they are feeling down.

59.Allow a vehicle to go in front of you - The benefits of letting someone go in front of you can be exponential. Not only does the act itself help someone out, but it also makes that person happy and more likely to pass on the kind gesture to another person. It eases tensions, allows for positive interactions, and makes everyone’s day a little better.

Clean Graffiti off of buildings
Clean Graffiti off of buildings | Source

8 (Eight) Suggestions perfectly suited for the younger generations:

60.Make a Bird Feeder - You can help your community reconnect with nature by making a bird feeder to hang outside your house or classroom. Your neighbours or classmates will enjoy seeing the birds that come to visit.

61.Eat a healthy snack - Eating more healthy snacks will help keep your energy levels even. Eating healthy snacks and meals help keep you productive and happy all day, and more available to help others.

62.Make Kindness Bookmarks - Whoever you give your bookmarks to will be reminded of kindness whenever they happen to look at them; and being reminded of the importance of kindness might help them remember to be kind.

63.Write a positive note to a classmate - Sometimes all a person needs to succeed at something is having someone else believe in them. Doing well in school is a lot of work and is often discouraging. Be a good friend to your classmates by encouraging them to do their best.

64.Create a giant ‘Thank You’ card for your teacher - Often teachers don't know how much they are appreciated until many years down the road. This way, they will know they are appreciated!

65.Say "Bless You" when someone sneezes - You are acknowledging another person's misfortune and offering them well wishes. A little compassion when someone's not feeling well goes a long way.

66.Make time for Laughter – Laughter often the result of being silly and is known to help people to reduce stress and feel better. Laughter connects people and even sometimes connects strangers! It helps you build community.

67.Give Affection - Those who give affection get as much satisfaction out of it as those who receive it. In fact, hugs have been shown to reduce heart rates, improve overall moods, lower blood pressure, and increase nerve activity, just to name a few benefits of affection. All parents and grandparents love hugs from their little ones!

Build a Bird Feeder
Build a Bird Feeder | Source

Time or Money

When it comes to celebrating Mandela Day - would your rather give money or your time to make a difference?

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