City Property employees packing food for Mandela Day. Picture: Bongani Shilulbane/African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg - Let's look at Mandela Day differently this time. Almost every year at this time we start complaining about how some of our Struggle heroes are not recognised or how less recognised they are by their political parties, the media and society at large.

These are tiring, regressive and delaying conversations that don’t move us forward. As a social activist, I believe that activism shouldn’t be dominated by anger and destructive conversations.

We need to forge ahead without taking away the credit of Nelson Mandela and any other Struggle hero, deceased or alive. Ours is to find ways to honour the heroes we think are not celebrated enough, and not take away the shine from Madiba’s contribution.

The truth is, Mandela Day is a day that revives hope in a young leader such as myself, who advocates for social justice.

One aspect of it that really speaks to my heart is the full spirit of giving back, making a difference in someone’s life, and the goodwill. In the simplest words, Mandela Day to me means an international day of giving.

It's on Mandela Day that a child from Pankop could get his school fenced. It is on Mandela Day that a grandma from Ga-mashashane could be surprised by a new house. It's on this day that a lot of homeless people could get a warm meal.

It’s on such a day that the people at an old-age home in Hammanskraal would be remembered by friends and family who would visit them and even cook them lunch.

It's an important day that equally reminds most of us about the importance of kindness and caring for others.

In essence, it's about social justice.

That's something I advocate for daily.

We differ politically, and rightfully so. Nevertheless, we all agree as Mandela famously said: “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.”

The truth is that although the chains of Robben Island have been broken, many South Africans remain chained in abject poverty. More than half of the country's population is trapped in poverty, data from Statistics SA has shown.

According to the Poverty Trends Report for 2006 to 2015, 30.4 million people (55.5% of the population) live in poverty. This is among other urgent issues such as youth unemployment, and proper access to healthcare, sanitation and education.

This is why the fight for social justice is something we need to continue championing.

Mandela Day gives us hope that our camaraderie to do something special for someone less fortunate and needy shows that, as a country, we still care about the wellbeing of others.

Some of the acts done on this day have longevity in their impacts. That is what makes it such a beautiful day.

My biggest cry is how these acts of giving hardly reach the rural areas.

These are places where learners still go to school in broken soles, without winter uniforms, and some of their schools or classrooms are dilapidated.

They too need us to do something for them on Mandela day.

However, for as long as Mandela Day continues to be about showing love, care and giving, it remains one of the most important days on our calendar.

We may not uproot poverty and the many social challenges we face as a country today, but the little we do on this day really goes a long way.

May we really take it upon ourselves to try to make every day a Mandela Day, because there’s always someone who could do with our kindness every day.

To celebrate Tata's centenary, may we give 100 minutes of our time for a good cause, 100 pairs of school shoes to the needy or perform 100 good deeds.

Happy Mandela Day!

* Kabelo Chabalala is the founder and chairperson of the Young Men Movement. Email [email protected]; Twitter: @KabeloJay; Facebook: Kabelo Chabalala