Nelson Mandela has had a profound impact on South Africa. Not only on its past, but on its future. His values, leadership, and commitment to reconciliation and peace have shaped the country in numerous ways – they’ve shaped us as individuals, too.
One of Mandela’s most significant contributions was his role in ending apartheid, the institutionalized system of racial segregation that divided South Africa for many years. Mandela's activism and unwavering belief in equality and justice were instrumental in dismantling this oppressive system and laying the foundation for a democratic and inclusive South Africa.
Mandela's legacy also includes promoting national unity and reconciliation. As the first black President of South Africa, Mandela prioritized reconciliation efforts, establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address the human rights violations committed during apartheid. This approach of acknowledging past wrongs while seeking healing and forgiveness has helped the people of South Africa move toward a more cohesive society. It has helped us understand the right way forward.
As Mandela once said, “In our language there is a saying, ‘Ndiwelimilambo enamagama’ – I have crossed famous rivers. It means that one has travelled and, in the process, gained much experience.”
This is something I’ve come to understand as I have travelled through life and gained perspective on what really matters, and I believe others all around the world have too – including those who have never stepped foot in our country.
Throughout his 67 years of service, Mandela's values and actions did more than just set an example for youth. They became an objective. He always emphasized the importance of education, encouraging young people to strive for knowledge and personal growth, because he believed that education empowers individuals and enables them to contribute positively to their communities and the nation. His commitment to education inspired many young South Africans to pursue their academic and personal aspirations, with an understanding that education can be a catalyst for change. Though, I’ve learned over the years that his reach extended far beyond our borders. Mandela became the person that so many people around the world strived to be.
As a young person, I know my life has already been improved because I have adopted the values Mandela promoted. His emphasis on equality, justice, education, and reconciliation has laid the groundwork for me to become a more inclusive person and a better ally. Mandela's leadership has also taught me the importance of empathy, compassion, and respect for all individuals, regardless of their background or circumstances. That is why, on July 18 each year (the day the United Nations recognizes as Mandela Day), I spend 67 minutes being of service to others. It is also why, on most days of the year, I dedicate 67 minutes to an act of kindness, either through structured opportunities by Zebra employee resource groups (ERGs) such as ZEAL, WIN and the Green Herd or through spontaneous opportunities.
If Mandela could spend every day for 67 years being of service, the least I can do is spend 67 minutes each day of the year doing the same.
Now, I know as life gets busy, it may feel impossible to spend an hour focused on someone else. However, sometimes the best act of kindness comes in the form of education – of personal learning and growth. Simply understanding the history, struggles, and issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community, women and the environment can translate into service because it helps dispel stereotypes and foster greater acceptance and understanding for all people in my community. I can identify where inherent biases exist so that I can ensure they aren’t bleeding out into everyday interactions while simultaneously imparting the knowledge I learn from these learning sessions to my nephews and members of my community. Each time we listen to one another with the intent of understanding each other, it assists in a small way to build a better tomorrow for all. For those 67 minutes I’ve spent doing something of service – whether learning, teaching, or supporting – someone else might gain 67 years of peace, safety, or contentment.
So, today (and every day), I challenge you to give 67 minutes of service – to provide an act of kindness to others. Choose to impact those around you positively and carry on Nelson Mandela’s message of service to your community.
Not sure how?
Start by embodying his values and principles in your life. Treat others with respect and kindness, strive for personal growth and education, and actively support initiatives that promote equality and justice within our communities and workplace. Engage in discussions about Mandela and his legacy with your peers and teach both younger and older generations about his legacy and its relevance to them. Explain how adopting his values can help foster a better tomorrow for them.
Share Mandela's story and teachings through social media or by organizing educational events at your work, place of worship, a local school, or even on the streets of your community. Anytime you can help raise awareness and invoke conversations about his values, years of struggle, and accomplishments, you will help ensure Mandela's values are kept alive in the collective consciousness. By embodying these values and actively sharing them with others, we can all contribute to a better future, just as Mandela did.
What Do You Think?
What is the impact of Nelson Mandela's legacy?
How has South Africa grown or changed for you? (Or, if you live outside South Africa, how do you feel your country could grow or change if more people were to take 67 minutes each day to be of service?)
Jump on your favorite social media platform to share your thoughts, and be sure to tag in Zebra’s accounts: