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67 Minutes For Freedom: It’s Nelson Mandela International Day
July 18, 2012
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Happy birthday Mandiba! Today is Nelson Mandela's 94th birthday. Back in 2009, the United Nations gave Mandela a fitting gift: they declared July 18 'Nelson Mandela International Day For Freedom, Justice and Democracy'. The day is an opportunity to honour the legacy of Mandela by devoting time to helping others.

Specifically, the idea is to pledge 67 minutes of your time to do public service that helps your fellow human beings. 67 is the number of years Mandela devoted to public service as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.

So what can your pledge be? The UN has a gallery of some pledges that were made last year at the United Nations headquarters for inspiration, but the basic idea is to offer help to a person or a group in your community who is in need.

There are 67 suggestions for pledges on the Nelson Mandela Foundation website. They include making a new friend from a different cultural background, reading to the blind, helping someone get a job, speaking to a terminally ill patient, or giving blankets to people in need. But there's no need to stick to the list: any work of public service will do.

Many South African organizations are marking the occasion as well: Habitat for Humanity South Africa is building 67 homes in honour of Mandela Day, Meals On Wheels is asking people to "Adopt A Grandparent" today by helping the organization provide food and aid to elderly South Africans, and the Boundless Heart Foundation is mobilizing people in the community of Blikkiesdorp to establish a library, plant local gardens and create an outdoor art studio.

To mark the 94th birthday of one of the most exceptional people on the planet, here's a selection of Nelson Mandela quotes:

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world".

"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".

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear".

"In my country we go to prison first and then become President".

"Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement".

"We must use time wisely and realize that the time is always ripe to do right".

This past season on the program, Idris Elba talked about being asked to play the role of Nelson Mandela on the big screen:

We also had Lionel Richie on the program, and he shared the story of becoming Mandela's stylist:

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