Something To Ponder

Editorial, Something To Ponder
Mandela Day - photo credits:

The Mandela Day Vision

The Nelson Mandela International Day is observed the world over on18th July.  The day was formally declared a global day on November 2009, by the United Nations General Assembly. On this day, everybody in the world is supposed to use their power, time or whatever means at their disposal to take action and effect some change.

To further solidify the celebrations of the day, the global family is asked to take 67 minutes out of the day on 18th July, a day that also doubles as Nelson Mandela’s birthday and donate them to something that would transform the world. This is because the originators of the 67 minutes campaign believed that each individual has what it takes to make an impact. At the time of the declaration of the global Mandela Day call to action, Nelson Mandela had spent 67 years of his life making the world a better place. The idea is that those 67 minutes each year, spent on Mandela Day represent more than just charity work, it is a celebration of each person’s ability totake action and effect some change, even if only for 67 minutes annually, on 18th  July.

This year, a woman in Cape Town has set a good example of interpreting what the annual 67 minutes campaign means with her selfless action in commemoration of the Mandela day.  Hear her, “Sometimes bringing change into the world feels like an impossible task, so many people are in dire need of help, and it’s overwhelming. Where do we even begin? What do we change? I think about Nelson’s Mandela’s words: ‘It always feels impossible until it is done.’ And when considering the immenseness of the task of help, of change, I am inclined to lean towards small, practical, sustainable, measurable actions. I guess that’s sort-of my thing 🙂 …”

The story behind this quote is that the person who wrote this Lorraine Loots, an artist based in Cape Town  is auctioning one of her paintings, a painting of Mandela, in order to raise funds to help her house help who is a single mother of four and an asylum seeker from Zimbabwe. Ms Loots has said on her Instagram post that the highest bidder for the painting by 16:00 GMT+2 on Thursday 25th July would win the beautiful 23mm x 27mm painting of Tata Madiba. So far, the highest bid, in US dollars stands at $1400.

Loots continues to explain the difficult life her house-help lives with her four dependent children, in an area of Cape Town two hours out of town. She has to use the train daily and usually the train is delayed putting her life and other commuters at risk. The two-roomed house they live in, in an area that is crime ridden is in dire need of repair and hardly enough accommodation for the family. There are many reasons that put together, have given Loots’  the idea to raise money to fund her house-help and her children to better accommodations, in a safer neighbourhood and  nearer to her place of work.

In this story, I got the picture of someone who has sat and thought long and hard about what she can do to change the world. She found the world right there in her home and she set out to do something for this one individual close to her heart and life. The house-help maybe from another country, race and colour, but, she is a human being in desperate need of assistance to change her life story. Relocating to a better house may not be earth shattering to many of us, but for the needful person, it is a life-changing action. Just because of this one action, the children dependent on this lady may go to better schools and even have better opportunities to better their own lives than they would should they remain in the part of town they live in right now. Years later in the future, another Nelson Mandela, this time of Zimbabwe origin may rise from this household and he/she will tell the story of how the selfless act of the mother’s employer changed their lives and destiny and gave them the leg-up they needed towards the fulfilment of their destiny.

On the other hand, we may never again hear of this family after Loots and her heroic action are relegated to the archives of our minds and we see and hear other stories that will grab our attention. Regardless, this particular action of this Cape Town artist and her sacrifice to help in their hour of need, will remain edged on this family’s hearts and minds for the rest of their lives. She will change their lives, make their world a better place and affect change for them as a family. She and her son will also benefit from the services of a more settled in mind, physically comfortable and eternally grateful house-help.

I cannot find a more befitting example for the interpretation of the Mandela Day, 67 Minutes vision than the story that is yet unfolding in Cape Town. Here is hoping that Loots gets to raise enough for her project and some extra to make a complete change for this family.  As for the rest of us South Africans and the world, may we all draw inspiration from the lessons her story offers.

Let’s make our 67 minutes count!