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Uganda marks Mandela Day

By Abushedde Angella

Last year, the world lost one of its greatest leaders when anti-apartheid icon and former South African President Nelson Mandela passed away. Today, we remember his legacy on his birthday; Mandela Day, July 18.

In celebration of Mandela Day, United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon is calling upon the world to address real problems in the communities.

“Apartheid is gone, but the world still faces the threats of poverty, discrimination, climate change, conflict, and more. Together, we can give better meaning to our celebration by paving way for a better future,” Ban said in a statement.

Celebrated across the globe, the day gives everyone the opportunity to emulate Mandela’s role as public servant. This year the day will focus on three themes: literacy, shelter, and food security. Individuals, groups, and corporates have been challenged to give 67 minutes of their time – one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service – to take action to change the world for the better and, in doing so, to help build a global movement for good.

In Uganda, the South African High Commission celebrates the day at Kireka School for Children with Special Needs – in line with the theme of the day for 2014, “Free yourself, free others and serve every day.”

With the assistance of Quality Chemicals, Ann Ssentamu Garden Designers, Mr. Edward Kiyenje of International Projects Property Developers, Eskom (Uganda), the Office of the World Health Organisation representative, Uganda Red Cross Society, and Game Stores, the High Commission will be planting trees on the grounds of the school, enlarge the school’s vegetable garden, hang new mosquito nets in the dormitories and present donations of medication, clothing, toiletries, foodstuffs and scholastic material.

The High Commission will also join hands with the management of the Namboole Nelson Mandela Stadium and dedicate 67 minutes to cleaning the Banda Market in Banda, near Kampala city.

The idea of Mandela Day was inspired by Mandela at his 90th birthday celebrations in London’s Hyde Park in 2008, when he said: “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now.”  The United Nations officially declared July 18 as Nelson Mandela International Day in November 2009, recognising Mandela’s “values and his dedication to the service of humanity” and acknowledging his contribution “to the struggle for democracy internationally, and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world”.

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