Citizens In Action Southern Africa (CIASA) joins the rest of the world to commemorate Nelson Mandela International day which was declared in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom by the UN General Assembly on 18 July as “Nelson Mandela International Day” in 2009. In resolution A/RES/64/13, Mandela is recognized for his values and commitment to the service of humanity in conflict resolution, race relations, human rights promotion and protection, reconciliation, gender equality, protection of children and vulnerable groups, and poverty relief and social justice. As part of this resolution, he is recognized for his contribution to promoting a culture of peace around the world and the struggle for democracy internationally. Rather than being a public holiday, the day is intended to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life and work. This day also acknowledges his fight against poverty, gender inequality, racism, and the abolition of human rights.
Nelson Mandela International Day is celebrated every year to shine light on the legacy of Nelson Mandela who changed the 20th century and helped shape the 21st. This day calls for individuals, governments and stakeholders to renew with the values that inspired Nelson Mandela which are determination, a deep commitment to justice, human rights and fundamental freedoms, a profound belief in the equality and dignity of every woman and man, a relentless engagement for dialogue and solidarity across all lines and divisions. One should have it in mind that Nelson Mandela was a great statesman, a fierce advocate for equality, the founding father of peace in South Africa for in times of turbulence, he showed people the power of resisting oppression, of justice over inequality, of dignity over humiliation, of forgiveness over hatred. There is therefore a need to recall the lessons of Nelson Mandela’s life, and the essential humanism that guided him, “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 Nelson Mandela Foundation has themed the Nelson Mandela international Day 2022 around its food and nutrition programme, with the call, ‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are’ as they realized there is an increasing global consciousness about the interdependence of climate change and food insecurity, exacerbated by social inequality and poverty. Climate change is affecting the availability, accessibility, utilisation and affordability of food, which is experienced particularly by the vulnerable amongst us. This therefore calls upon governments, development partners and other stakeholders to participate in sustainable interventions such as promoting community and home gardens and supporting fruit and indigenous tree planting.
As the world celebrates this day, it is important to bear in mind the words by Nelson Mandela, “For our freedom can never be complete or our democracy stable unless the basic needs of our people are met. Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom”. Tackling food insecurity is a key aspect of poverty reduction. Food security-related interventions enhance social cohesion, address root causes and drivers of conflict and generate peace dividends. This culminates in the prevention and mitigation of violent conflict and contributes to more sustainable peace through the creation of an environment that is conducive to dealing with the violent past to guarantee non-recurrence. CIASA therefore, urges the government of Zimbabwe, humanitarian actors and development actors to commemorate this day by striving to preserve the values of peace, healing, freedom, unity, and protection of human rights that Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to.