“You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself” – Nelson Mandela Nelson Mandela is a man celebrated globally for his belief systems and mindset which set him apart as an international icon. His experiences and actions throughout his life affected the lives of millions all over the world. He is late now, but he still lives in the hearts of millions of people because he stood for fairness, equality and justice for all. Madiba as he is fondly called left a bold legacy in the sands of time as the values he stood for cut across various echelons of the society. Nelson Mandela International Day was launched in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on 18 July 2009 via a unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly. Nelson Mandela has many accolades. He’s an iconic figure that triumphed over South Africa’s apartheid regime. He was a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, and an international peacemaker. And he was the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa. Nelson Mandela International Day celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world and the ability to make an impact. It was inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made a year earlier, for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that “it is in your hands now”. It is more than a celebration of Madiba’s life and legacy; it is a global movement to honour his life’s work and to change the world for the better. I have learnt that if our actions only stem from our decisions and choices then those actions will be short-lived, they will not be sustainable. I have learnt that while we chase the big things out there and keep moving every day, there are little (huge) things which are much more important to focus on. These things, in the long run, affect our lives and the lives of other people much more than the short cuts, accidental discharges, big breaks and huge achievements that we attain in our lives. Nelson Mandela knew this and that is how he changed the course of his nation and the world at large. History tells of how much investment he made in his mind. His investment in his mind became a gold mine, this is evidenced in his words and actions and today we have over a hundred quotes by him. Our actions are borne from our thoughts, our mindsets, set of beliefs and the things we stand for. If we must make a lasting impact in our communities, we must be ready to invest in having the right mindset, set of beliefs and our will. These are powered by our habits, attitude, behaviour, intra-personal conversations and narratives and our zeal for continuous personal development. We must be willing to pay the price to be better and higher versions of ourselves continually. The earlier we begin to create time for the things that really count the better we become; because as we evolve, the results in our lives evolve too. I have also learnt that our minds are like farmlands, if we must have successful harvests, then we must be ready to heavily invest in our minds (By reading, learning, growing). We must plant very fertile seeds, we must water them, patiently watch them grow, fertilize and weed our minds from time to time as need be (in the place of personal reflections). We must guard it and guide it very jealously especially because of the information overload we have today. The harvest from the life of Nelson Mandela will continue to feed generations for a long time to come because of the legacy he left behind. So, as we celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela and make the decision to be agents of change in our communities let us pay attention to the little things that make our decisions and lives count in the long run.
“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.”- Nelson Mandela