Former US President Bill Clinton spoke at the Nelson Mandela Foundation's Centre of Memory and Dialogue last week in support of Mandela Day on July 18.

Mandela Day is a day of public service when members of the public are encouraged to do something good for at least 67 minutes in honour of more than 67 years that Nelson Mandela dedicated to public service and the fight for social justice.

President Clinton spoke about the need for Nelson Mandela Day and encouraged people to embrace the day of service on Nelson Mandela’s birthday July 18.

President Clinton delivered the first Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in 2003. He has been supportive of the Mandela Day initiative and in 2009 showed his support by attending a Mandela Day gala dinner with Ms. Graça Machel in New York. The event gathered together some of the world’s most influential people for a dinner and an auction, which was used to raise funds for Mandela Day.

This year he is again endorsing the initiative and encouraging individuals to go out and support this day of service.

He said: “We need to build civil society – we can’t do it all with government and the private sector.”

He mentioned that in the US, Martin Luther King Day, which is a public holiday, was redefined as a public service day – “a day on and not a day off” – and he is delighted that the same has been proposed for Mandela Day.

He went on to emphasize the ethos behind Mandela Day: that if people come together to do good, far more can be achieved than by working as individuals.

He said: “If you have one national day of service, what everyone can do together is more than Nelson Mandela could do in his prime.”


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