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Celebrating Nelson Mandela: A lasting legacy of overcoming adversity

POSTED July 18, 2023

Celebrating Nelson Mandela: A lasting legacy of overcoming adversity

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

By Simran Bhatia, digital content services manager, Canada

Nelson Mandela smiling and shaking hands with children

On this day over a century ago, Nelson Mandela was born in South Africa. The famous anti-apartheid activist and philanthropist served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 and his legacy is one that still inspires people around the world, including all of us at Children Believe.

Born in Mvezo, a village in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, Mandela dedicated his life to fighting against apartheid (a former policy of segregation and political, social, and economic discrimination against the non-white majority in the Republic of South Africa)

Today the great statesman is recognized for his contributions to social justice, education, and healthcare in his homeland, always aspiring to create an inclusive society. Mandela’s remarkable efforts continue to inspire us today and his life and leadership offer valuable lessons in how to achieve and overcome adversity. Here are some key lessons to be learned from Mandela’s life:

  • Leadership with Integrity: Mandela’s leadership was grounded in moral principles and integrity. As president, he led by example, placing the needs of others above his own and demonstrating a commitment to fairness, honesty, and accountability, leading the nation through a peaceful transition to democracy.
  • Peaceful Resistance: Mandela believed in the power of peaceful resistance and non-violence. He showed that change can be achieved through dialogue, negotiation, and the promotion of understanding, even in the face of immense oppression.
  • Education as Empowerment: Mandela recognized the transformative power of education. He emphasized the importance of education in empowering individuals, breaking cycles of poverty, and driving social progress. His commitment to education highlights its role as a key tool for personal and societal transformation.
  • Embracing Diversity and Inclusion: Mandela embraced the diversity of South Africa and championed the importance of inclusivity. He believed in the equal worth of all individuals, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or background, and he worked tirelessly to create a society that respected and valued diversity. 
  •  Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Mandela’s ability to forgive his oppressors and his commitment to reconciliation demonstrate the transformative power of forgiveness. He showed that reconciliation is crucial for healing, fostering unity, and moving forward as a society.

Recognizing the critical importance of early childhood education, Mandela supported the expansion of early childhood development programs. He acknowledged that early learning experiences greatly influenced children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. Mandela possessed a visionary mindset, always striving for a better future. He envisioned a South Africa where all citizens would be treated equally, irrespective of their race or background. Mandela’s vision of a democratic and inclusive society inspired millions around the world.

Mandela’s relentless pursuit of equality and his vision of a just society continue to guide us as we strive to create a world where every individual has access to education, healthcare, and equal opportunities. As we celebrate Mandela’s legacy, Children Believe hopes each of us are inspired to carry forward these ideals to create a more equitable future for all.

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Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.

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