Former South African President and nobel peace prize Nelson Mandela seen in this 2005 photo. Picture: Gianluigi Guercia

Johannesburg - Mandela Day, commemorated through doing good for others across the world, will remain crucial for South Africa and humanity, said Yase Godlo, head of Mandela Day for the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

“People have realised the significance of Mandela’s legacy, especially after Madiba passed away. Young and old, they have been coming out over the years to do good for others, and upon realising the difference they made, they go back and do it again,” said Godlo.

“Of course sometimes some people do it once off, but the spirit of goodwill for others, who are less fortunate, will remain crucial for South Africans.”

The former statesman’s birthday, on July 18, is known as Mandela Day world wide.

It was launched in 2009 through an unanimous decision of the United Nations General Assembly, encouraging people from all walks of life to dedicate 67 minutes of their time doing good for others.

The response and partnerships with the foundation had been overwhelming, said Godlo.

“Individuals and organisations have been registering on our website, indicating what they would be doing for Mandela Day. The last count of various activities logged, which was last week, was at 300. We have not been able to check the latest number yet.”

South African embassies abroad coordinate activities in the respective countries

The themes for the various activities are - food security, education and literacy, shelter and infrastructure and service and volunteering.

Although some have labelled the activities as being overshadowed by public relations exercise especially for corporates, Mandela Day was more than a public relations, Godlo said.

“This is a global movement for people to do good. Many realise that there is so much lacking, especially when it comes to food, shelter, health and education. The day is an opportunity to remind people that they can help, however small a gesture. One does not need to be part of a big group shadowed by cameras. Individuals can do good in their own communities, down their own street.”

“Taking a spade and tend a neighbour’s garden or giving a destitute family down the road a meal counts.”

Godlo added that the ultimate goal was to make Mandela Day activities sustainable.

Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel spent the day helping pack one million meals in Sandton, Johannesburg on Friday, as part of the Stop Hunger Now campaign.