Ways of Mandela: Taking time off to help humanity

Mon, 21 Jul 2014 Source: Public Agenda

The Ghanaian media last Friday, with Public Agenda not an exception, was replete with stories on the latest Ministerial reshuffle, the 2014 Supplementary Budget presented to Parliament and new twist and turns to the whereabouts of Castro, the musician. Thus, little or nothing at all was dedicated to the birthday of the legendary Nelson Mandela, which fell Friday, July 18.

But the life of this illustrious son of Africa should not escape the memory of Ghanaians as it provides a path worthy of treading. To this end, we share with readers excerpts from write-ups by two personalities, Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, and Magnus Berg, Intern, United Nations Information Centre, Accra, both dedicated to Mandela's birthday. Please, read on…

Last year, the world lost one of its greatest leaders when Nelson Mandela passed away. We remember his legacy especially on his birthday, the 18th of July.

Nelson Mandela and the United Nations had a strong history together. Shortly after he was released from prison, he came to our Headquarters. It was a moment of great excitement.

Apartheid is gone – thanks to Nelson Mandela, countless other individuals and the proud actions of the United Nations. But our planet and its people still face terrible threats -- poverty, discrimination, climate change, conflict and more. Nelson Mandela Day is a call to action. Each of us can celebrate this Day by helping to address real problems in our communities. Together we can give great meaning to our celebration by paving the way for a better future

Hence, despite the absence of this great icon, Nelson Mandela's remarkable struggle for freedom, human rights and equality and his teachings are as much needed today as they were when he was released from prison in 1990 after 27 years behind bars.

He was a true voice of the voiceless and a supporter of the suppressed. But perhaps, first and foremost, he was forgiving. He realised that when he “walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to [his] freedom, [he] knew if [he] didn't leave [his] bitterness and hatred behind, [he did] still be in prison.”

The world will always be inhabited by people with varied views and opinions. Nelson Mandela taught us to embrace our differences, to look beyond our squabbles and conflicting perceptions, and instead to focus on how we can learn from each other and through that learning create strong and inclusive societies.

All people, from common people like ourselves to the leaders of the world, can be messengers of Nelson Mandela's teachings. We can all learn and study his vision of reconciliation and tolerance, and internalize it into our actions by using our time wisely.

An opportunity to start embracing the teachings of the great Nelson Mandela, the leader and the visionary, is to dedicate some minutes of our time to helping others.

Columnist: Public Agenda