Few people have never heard of Nelson Mandela, the man whose courage, character and life story have made him a legend around the world. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on 18 July 1918. As an anti-apartheid revolutionary, he emerged as a powerful political leader who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. His death was a loss felt by the entire nation.

This year, he would have been 101. And so, this July, we’re making every day a Mandela Day. And we’re doing it with love and gratitude. 

What does Mandela Day signify?

Mandela was an inspiration to the world. In November 1989, the United Nations officially declared 18 July as Nelson Mandela International Day, in recognition of Mandela’s ‘values and his dedication to the service of humanity’, and his ‘promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.’ 

He was a gentleman, a wise man, and a true philanthropist, who gave to those in need without any thought of gain. And it’s for that spirit of compassion and kindness that South Africans celebrate Madiba’s life. (Madiba is his clan name.)

What’s the ‘67 minutes’ connection?

Mandela Day is linked with the number 67. No, it’s not the number of his cell on Robben Island. The number 67 signifies the number of years he spent campaigning for the human rights of every South African. 

Each year, South Africans are encouraged to spend 67 minutes doing something wonderful to help others in need. Taking action to help others is obviously an ongoing affair, but in July we do it for Madiba. 

What can you do?

It was City Press editor Ferial Hafferjee who reported, ‘The icon does not want a legacy cast in copper, concrete or marble, no monuments or highways, but a living legacy of volunteerism and service.’ So here are few ideas if you’re at a loss about what you can do:

  1. Keep people in need warm with blankets and scarves. www.67blankets.com
  2. Drop off outgrown kiddies’clothes and (unbroken) toys, old prams and baby cots at a nearby children’s home.
  3. Nazareth House nurtures, cares and protects orphans and other vulnerable children. Donations are always welcome. http://www.nazhouse.org.za/ 
  4. Sign up at a home for the elderly to read or play music once a month. You’ll be bringing an hour or two of joy. 
  5. Poverty is manmade – surely it can be man-mended. Help make a difference to the millions of starving people in South Africa with donations or assistance. http://www.mealsonwheels.org.za/
  6. Sign up to deliver meals for Meals on Wheels for the Aged. Many elderly people would love a food drop-off, and a chat. http://www.mowplumstead.org.za/
  7. Volunteer at your local SPCA to help with kennel duties, admin, legal assistance and counselling.  Donations for the on-site charity shops are also welcomed. www.nspca.co.za
  8. Pick up 67 pieces of litter.
  9. Redeem points earned on a shopper’s card for gift vouchers to donate to a family in need.
  10. Sponsor a guide dog by paying for the puppy training: www.guidedog.org.za 
  11. Sign up as an organ donor – your body can save up to seven lives and many more with tissues such as heart valves. www.odf.org.za
  12. Bake something for the local police station: the night shift in particular needs encouraging in their difficult work.
  13. Get your kids involved. Encourage them to start, with your help, working towards a charity. How about collecting plastic for the Owl Rescue Centre, which recycles the material to create owl houses, bat houses and beehives? Want to support other children? Collect clothes and general household items for Little Brinks https://www.littlebrinks.co.za/, an organisation that helps children and babies in need. Or start a new charity for an issue you all feel strongly about (register it at www.startsomethingday.co.za, and you could win money for the cause).
  14. And of course, stock up on Mandela Tea. A percentage of the profits of our delicious Mandela Tea goes directly to the Mandela Day School Library Project, because we at the Cape Tea Co are committed to linking South African business and sustainable education. https://mandelatea.com/initiatives-2/#

Find out about the many other volunteer or donation opportunities at https://www.mandeladay.com/pages/what-can-i-do

Here at Cape Tea, we were thrilled to deliver Mandela Day muffins to residents at three CPOA homes for the elderly: Erica’s Place in Athlone, Oakhaven Place in Heideveld, and Lilyhaven in Bonteheuwel. We stopped to chat, and shared tea and memories. What lovely people we met!

‘Our Mandela Tea truck was quite a hit,’ says Cape Tea representative Carol Adams. ‘We even had nursery school children sing the National Anthem outside the Lilyhaven home to commemorate this special day.’

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