A Day for Men to Soar

“Not everything that is faced can be changed.
But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

James Baldwin: “As Much Truth As One Can Bear”,
The New York Times Book Review (1962)

July the 18th is Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Certainly a great marker in the history of not only South Africa, but the modern world as a whole. This is not the platform to recount his life and deeds – that has been adequately done by both biographers and history itself – but now is possibly the time to reflect on his legacy. That legacy has been encapsulated by the celebrating of his birthday, not only here in South Africa, but internationally. There have not been too many individuals in the history of mankind whose names are universally known; that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in one of those few outstanding human beings is a tribute in itself to the man, his philosophy, his steadfastness deeds and wisdom.

On the 27th April 2009, during the course of the 46664 concerts, the Nelson Mandela Foundation proposed an international Mandela Day and invited the global community to join in support. It wasn’t aimed at being a Public Holiday; it was a call to action in the great man’s name for people to utilise their time to honour his legacy and values through volunteering and community services. In true melioristic fashion Mandela Day is a call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world, and the ability to make a positive impact. The Mandela Day campaign message was:

“Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes.
“We would be honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace, reconciliation and cultural diversity.”

Leading up to that day in 2009 a series of educational, artistic, fundraising and volunteer events took place around the world, culminating in a concert at the Radio City Music Hall in New York on the 18th July. The idea took off; after being presented to the United Nations, in November 2009 the United Nations General Assembly formally declared 18 July to be “Nelson Mandela International Day”. Since 2010, countries around the world have recognised the 18th July as a day to give back to the community, to help those in need, and to alleviate difficulties where possible.

Never was the situation more fraught than in 2020. With Covid-19 still rampant in our country, and at various levels in most countries around the world, there are more people suffering want now than in living memory. Figures published recently talk of an additional 3 000 000 South Africans out of jobs due to the virus; if that’s the official figure the reality is certainly a lot starker. For every unemployed person there is a knock-on effect. Breadwinners can no longer support families; necessary secondary incomes fall away. Children and adults alike go hungry, and it becomes a self-defeating circle. We need to break that chain: regardless of your opinion on government policy, regardless of your political stance, the suffering of others can only be alleviated through selfless action.

67 minutes of our time is what Nelson Mandela Day asks of us; hardly a great sacrifice. There are many opportunities to volunteer, there are many ways to spend that time positively. As the Foundation says “…start with 67 minutes…”; there is no need to limit ourselves to that time. A day’s worth of activity can equal many more full stomachs, and many smiles. At Waterfront Charters we are currently tied to the bollards as a company; coronavirus’s tentacles have the tourism business firmly in their grasp, but each of us will be personally working on the 18th in our own ways to help change the plight of others. We hope that all our guests, past and future, honour the great man’s legacy by also doing their bit to help change the world.

And when life is back to what we laughingly refer to as ‘normal’ again, we will continue to focus on our passion: healthy people in a healthy sustainable environment.
Looking forward to being out on the Atlantic with you all again soon!