Tomorrow, July 18th, is Mandela Day.
1990 was memorable to me for so many reasons, it was a year of great change both in my personal map of the world and in the greater world around me. I was embarking on a new journey, in a new relationship, new job, in a place and culture completely new to me.
It was my first time in Africa and the experience of all these changes, was to say the least, overwhelming!
It was February 1st 1990, and I had just arrived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. On leaving Europe, over the last few months it had seemed all the eyes of the world were firmly fixed on the daily dismantling of the Berlin wall, symbolising the end of the Cold War – but here I soon realised that all eyes in Africa were fixed on another great wall of division.
On February 2nd it was announced that Nelson Mandela was formally released from incarceration, bringing new meaning to the word conviction as the world’s gaze quickly turned to South Africa. A week later some friends that worked at the United Nations compound invited us to a celebration party. As we drove there on February 11th you could not help but be swept up in the euphoria happening all around us. There was no TV station in Tanzania at that time, but you could see people gathering around the few places that were fortunate enough to have satellite TV to try to get a glimpse of history being made.
On that day, February 11th 1990, Nelson Mandela continued his walk into history.
Witnessing the rallies and concerts calling for his release, I had never felt more part of something special. It was a joyful time and I had no idea 25 years on how influential the word Change would be for me.
In his book Long walk to Freedom Nelson Mandela alluded to the realisation that for change to take place in South Africa successfully he needed to include and take everyone in his country along on that journey.
Tomorrow July 18th is Mandela Day.
It’s an opportunity for us to echo the legacy and meaning behind its message.
“Each individual has the ability and responsibility to change the world for the better” (www.mandeladay.com).
Take Action. Inspire Change.
Make every day a Mandela Day.
Happy Mandela Day!
(P.S. we finally got a TV and station in 1992 with 1 channel)