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July 18, 2016

Nelson Mandela International Day

Today, 18th July 2016, would be Nelson Mandela’s 98th birthday. Civil rights hero, international symbol, social justice campaigner – even nearly 100 years after his birth, his influence is still felt across the world.


 “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela


Changing the world is no small feat, but Mandela made it his life’s work. Born in South Africa’s Cape Province in 1918, Mandela spent much of his life campaigning and educating others to end apartheid – a system where non-white citizens were segregated from white citizens and did not receive the same civil rights.


This fight for equality spanned the entirety of Nelson Mandela’s life and he encountered much resistance. As leader of the African National Congress (ANC), Mandela was classified as a terrorist by the South African government and spent a total of 27 years of his adult life in prison.


Photo by Megan Trace under Creative Commons License.

Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned. Photo by Megan Trace under Creative Commons License.


But the fight for South African people of all races to have equal rights did not end with his imprisonment. Although locked in prison, Mandela’s sentence succeeded in bringing international visibility to the anti-apartheid movement. Finally in 1990, 27 years after being incarcerated and with much international pressure, Mandela was released from prison.


1994 saw a huge turning point in the civil rights movement, as for the first time ever, all races were allowed to vote in the South African election. Mandela won the vote and just four years after leaving prison, he became President of South Africa.


Under his rule, huge progress was made in terms of equal rights and national stability. Welfare spending increased, free healthcare was introduced, housing and access to clean water boomed, and 1.5 million children were brought into the education system.


Today, Nelson Mandela International Day, honours the legacy of this incredible man and the huge steps he took to make the world a better place. Fighting poverty, promoting peace, striving for cultural diversity and equal rights – undoubtedly causes worth changing the world for.


If your class is interested in learning more about the civil rights movement or are looking to celebrate Black History Month in October, our ‘I Have A Dream’ drama workshop for KS2-4 focuses on the great achievements of civil rights heroes throughout history and today.


“I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character” – Martin Luther King


Photo by GovernmentZA under Creative Commons License.

Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day 2013. Photo by GovernmentZA under Creative Commons License.

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