On July 18, 2016, people will celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day. On this day people are encouraged to spend at least 67 minutes doing something positive for their communities. The 67 minutes is symbolic of the 67 years the late South African president Mandela spent fighting social injustice. Nelson Mandela is probably most remembered for being the vanguard of the South African people’s fight for independence and racial equality.
Prior to becoming the first black president in South Africa, Mandela served 27 years in prison as a result of his efforts in fighting the system of racial segregation imposed by the National Party, known as apartheid. Though offered opportunities for conditional release, Mandela refused to deviate from his beliefs and his mission. Ultimately, international pressure aided in bringing his incarceration to an end. After his release, Mandela led negotiations to end apartheid, organize multiracial elections, and went on to become president.
As much as Mandela is revered for his fight for racial equality, he fought equally hard to eradicate poverty in South Africa, reviving an economy which had been battered by apartheid sanctions. Mandela did not slow down after stepping down as South Africa’s president. He continued to lend his support to the fight against social injustice, poverty, and HIV/AIDS (Mandela’s son died from the disease) through organizations bearing his name, such as the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Children’s fund.
At Asante Africa, we have absorbed Mandela’s ideologies and fight for social justice into our work. Mandela viewed education as “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” This is at the heart of Asante Africa’s mission to educate and empower the next generation of change agents, whose dreams and actions transform the future for Africa and the world. Asante Africa recognizes the barriers to inclusion, particularly those facing young girls, and have developed special programs and methodologies to ensure that young girls have an equal opportunity to earn an education and change the world.
Nelson Mandela’s life is evidence of what one determined and relentless individual can accomplish. We can all draw inspiration from his life and his words, “It always seems impossible until it is done”. Anyone can be an agent of change and social justice is achievable. “Do not look the other way; do not hesitate. Recognize that the world is hungry for action, not words. Act with courage and vision.” Asante Africa celebrates the man by honoring his work and picking up where he left off.
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