In 1995, four years after his election as President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela made a historic visit to the UAE, where he was received by the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He was decorated with the Zayed Medal, First Class.
'In pursuit of former president Mandela's ideals and virtues, the South African Consulate-General in Dubai annually celebrate International Mandela Day'.
International Nelson Mandela Day, which is celebrated on the birthday of the South African legendary leader on July 18 every year, is an excellent time for UAE residents to reflect on what they can do to serve those in need, according to Manabile Shogole, South African Consul-General in Dubai.
Consul-General Shogole, who arrived in Dubai in May 2013, remembers the 'father of South African democracy' and his forgiving spirit and reconciliatory approach. Mandela, Shogola noted, was always keen to confront differences in an amicable manner.
In an interview with Khaleej Times, Shogole also noted that Mandela valued education above all else.
"He said 'education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world'," Shogole remembered. "Mandela wanted peace and justice. He believed in selfless service to the benefit of the needy, the downtrodden and the less fortunate."
"In pursuit of former president Mandela's ideals and virtues, the South African Consulate-General in Dubai annually celebrate International Mandela Day by going out to serve the needy," he added.
Given Mandela's firm belief in service to others without expecting anything in return, the South African consulate is calling on younger generations to continue the journey he started by improving the lives of the less fortunate. The consulate, in a statement, urged people to donate books and other educational materials to schools, assist in their refurbishment, spend time at an orphanage or old age home, clean up the environment and to send food parcels to those in need.
"However, at the end of the day, it isn't about what you give, but how you can make the most out of what you give and make a difference for the betterment of others," the statement said.
The thought was echoed in a statement by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"Tutor a child, feed the hungry, clean up a site or care for your environment. Volunteer to serve at a hospital or community centre. Be part of the Mandela movement to make the world a better place," he said. "This is the best tribute to an extraordinary man who, with his steadfast belief in justice and human equality, showed how one person can make a difference.
"Nelson Mandela showed the way," he added. "His accomplishments came at great personal cost to himself and his family. His sacrifice not only served the people of his nation, but made the world a better place for everyone, everywhere."
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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)
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