In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July “Nelson Mandela International Day” in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. This year the day is being celebrated under the theme, “Action Against Poverty”.

Mandela’s devotion to humanitarian causes makes this year’s theme relevant to his legacy and should inspire particularly young people to desire to live by his principles of serving and freeing others. After retiring from public life he continued working in community based initiatives lifting people’s lives for the better.  With the implementation of the sustainable development goals to ensure better lives for the continent by 2030, his legacy becomes even more crucial to emulate.

Take action in your community in support of his legacy, is the message shared almost every year. The small and big things we do within our communities can make a huge difference.

Mandela was born in the small village of Mvezo, in the district of Qunu near Umtata, Transkei (now known as Eastern Cape). On the 12th of June in 1964 Mandela he was sentenced to life in prison on Robben Island. He was then transferred to Pollsmoor prison and then Victor Verster before his release in 1990. He was elected president of South Africa in 1994 and at the end of his term in 1999, he voluntarily stepped down and also resigned as the president of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1997 at the Mafikeng Congress.

He passed away on the 5th of December 2013 at the age of 95.

Today we share with you quotes by the internationally acclaimed statesman and peacemaker, related to servant leadership and action against poverty.

1. “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”  2005 Make Poverty History Speech in UK.

2. “The G8 leaders, when they meet in Scotland in July, have already promised to focus on the issue of poverty, especially in Africa. I say to all those leaders: do not look the other way; do not hesitate. Recognise that the world is hungry for action, not words. Act with courage and vision.” 2005 Make Poverty History Speech in UK.

3. “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom. Of course the task will not be easy. But not to do this would be a crime against humanity, against which I ask all humanity now to rise up.”

4. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

5. “As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.”

Nelson Mandela centenary photo credit twitter

6. “A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”

7. “Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfil themselves.”

Also Read: The fight for the soul of Nelson Mandela

8. “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

9. “We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination.”

10. “The power of education extends beyond the development of skills we need for economic success. It can contribute to nation-building and reconciliation. Our previous system emphasized the physical and other differences of South Africans with devastating effects. We are steadily but surely introducing education that enables our children to exploit their similarities and common goals, while appreciating the strength in their diversity.” 1997, Address at Education Africa Presidential and Premier Education Awards