There are very few names that are etched in the minds of people all over the World. Nelson Mandela has the distinction of being one of the few. His likeness is cemented in murals, statues, portraits and so much more throughout the World. This is the year of Mandela; who would have turned 100 on July 18. Today marks the fifth anniversary of his passing.
He remains a pillar in South Africa and abroad. Thousands of people including heavy hitters Beyonce, Jay Z, Oprah Winfrey, and Naomi Campbell joined together in Johannesburg, South Africa for a charity concert Sunday honoring the iconic political figure. The Global Citizens Festival: Mandela 100 was organized by singer, and political activist Bob Geldof to commemorate Mandela’s life, and legacy. Global citizens, an advocacy group, is working to raise 1 billion dollars to combat issues such as extreme poverty, global health, gender equality, and education.
The goals of the campaign directly align to the efforts of the former South African president. Celebrities and entertainers were not the only high-profile people in attendance. Several heads of state, dignitaries, influencers, and global citizens also attended the event. The celebration of Mandela’s centennial birthdate is not over. According to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, a tribute is scheduled in his memory Thursday in Johannesburg.
His profound contributions to the World knows no boundaries and remains relevant today. The Nobel Peace Prize winner helped build a strong connection between South Africans and African Americans. He stated, in a speech at Yankee Stadium after he was released from prison, that there was an “unbreakable umbilical cord” between Black Americans and Black South Africans. Leaders in modern times are working to keep that connection intact. The anti-apartheid leader has inspired a new generation of leaders and political activists here in the U.S. and beyond.
Mandela’s offerings to society also include: expanding voting rights in South Africa, increasing the number of women involved in politics, fighting against AIDS/HIV, pushing for better education and the welfare of children, and working in the Civil Rights Movement. He was also well-known for his unforgettable sayings.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others,” he once said. “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
Those are some of his most memorable and powerful words that still ring true today. The World would be a better place if his optimism permeates into the universe landing on all of humanity.