Tomorrow is Mandela Day. A day on which ordinary citizens, business, NGOs and the government have embraced a call to action and will take part in various community service actions.

Giving up 67 minutes of your time may not seem a lot but collectively can make a huge difference in someone else’s life.

However, this does not mean we must limit our service to our communities to an hour a year on July 18. We should strive to make every day a “Mandela Day” where helping others becomes a way of life.

LeadSA has arranged that an estimated 12.5 million children in schools across the country will start the day by singing a special happy birthday song for Madiba at 8am.

The song is available on YouTube “Sing for Mandela” or SMS the word Madiba to 44009 (standard VAS rates apply). You can also log on to

Wherever you may be, we urge you to stand up and take time in thought and action so to pay tribute to Mr Mandela as he celebrates his 94th birthday.

Sadly some criticts are sceptical about initiatives planned for the day. They question the significance of a Mandela Day and whether actions will make any difference.

I hope they will see that every bit of help planned will indeed change the lives of others.

Last week I attended the Students in Free Enterprise national competition where teams from tertiary institutions presented details of initiatives they are involved in.

These include equipping communities with financial literacy, developing food gardens and small industries. I left inspired, knowing that our young leaders are doing something in their communities.

This is a culture we must develop and grow.

Then on Sunday, I attended a sports upliftment programme at which scores of under-privileged schools received brand new soccer kits, balls, food hampers and blankets from Corinthians/Black Aces Football Club.

It was heart-warming to see Deputy Sport Minister Gert Oosthuizen, national soccer coach Gordon Igesund, Moroka Swallows coach Zeca Marques and human rights activist advocate George Bizos lend their support to the initiative.

Ndaba Mandela said his grandfather was proud of the many initiatives planned.

Under the LeadSA Mandela Day schools project, 22 schools will receive attention, including two in Pretoria being visited by the Pretoria News and Talk Radio 702’s The Money Show.

Miss Earth will plant 67 trees as part of its Mandela Day contribution – today it will green schools in Olievenhoutbosch. Miss Earth finalists will also spend this week painting classrooms and refurbishing libraries in various parts of the country.

The National Press Club has arranged a Mandela photo exhibition for tomorrow.

These are just some, but in the spirit of becoming active citizens, thousands of activities have been planned for this week.

Let’s use Mandela Day to reflect on the role played by our Nobel Peace Prize winner in creating a democratic and free nation.

The Madiba example of leadership, humility and caring for others should spur us all to do more.

Suggestions that Mandela Day has turned into an opportunistic public relations stunt is nothing more than a weak attempt to deflect attention from the good being done.

An audit of the legacy of projects initiated this Mandela Day will reveal a picture of the amazing difference it is making.

It ignites the spirit of ubuntu, mobilises us to move out of our comfort zones, roll up our sleeves and help out in communities.

After tomorrow, we must ask ourselves how we can continue taking responsibility for our communities and responding to the plight of others. It is easy to find fault, but let’s make it our mission to find good and do good.

Bring on the Mandela magic!

This is for you, Madiba

Happy birthday to you,

Happy birthday to you,

Happy birthday, dear Madiba,

Happy birthday to you.

We love you, Tata,

We love you, Tata,

We love you, dear Madiba,

Happy birthday to you.