Nelson Mandela’s birthday wish

Inspire change, and celebrate the Nobel Prize winner’s 93rd, by doing 67  minutes of good deeds today

BY PAUL KAIHLA — July 18 is South Africa’s annual Good Samaritan’s day. This year, Nelson Mandela turned 93. And the tradition here is to donate 67 minutes to helping others in honor of the former freedom fighter’s devotion to human rights and reconciliation.

The number 67 is not a random pick; It represents the number of years that Mandela devoted himself to public service and political struggle — 27 of them incarcerated in South African prisons (1962 to 1990) such as Capetown’s equivalent of Alcatraz, Robben Island, as well as five years as South Africa’s first non-white president (1994 to 1999).

The ethos of loving kindness and building circles of support is what inspired the team at Soul’s Code to devote many multiples of 67 hours to found this property in the first place. But in the case of Nelson Mandela Day I was personally inspired after attending a fashion show and gala dinner at Capetown’s City Hall, the Edwardian landmark where Mandela made his globally-broadcast speech hours after former president F. W. de Klerk released him from prison. Mandela is a walking testament “that someone could put the interests of others first without some selfish goal in mind,” Capetown mayor, Patricia de Lille, told us.

There was a lot to celebrate. After decades of apartheid, violence and pariah status, South Africa won! It bears far more resemblance to Canada and Australia than failed successor states like the Soviet Union’s former stans republics. Why do you think that the type of celebrities who once upon time boycotted South African resort town, Sun City, now maintain vacation homes in Capetown, including Bono and Richard Branson?

It isn’t simply sloganeering. Citizens of South Africa walk the talk. For example, flight attendants on South Africa Airways flights today are asking passengers to remember their 67 minutes of do-gooding.

After receiving a favor from a stewardess on the morning flight from Capetown to Johannesburg, I joked that she’d successfully docked five minutes from her quota.

Her coy comeback: “Oh, I’m way ahead of that – I just gave your security guard a free upgrade to business class.”

Robben Island (upper right): Nelson Mandela's island prison for 18 years

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