What Mandela Day Means To Born-Frees

July 18 is Nelson Mandela International Day, where South Africans and all people come together to celebrate the life of the first democratically elected president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. People come together to do some good in the name of  Madiba and share the spirit of love, peace and togetherness than Nelson Mandela had. The Daily Vox went out to find out what Nelson Mandela Day means to the Born Free generation. 

The Born Free generation is said to be Nelson Mandela’s children, All the young people born in and after 1994, out of the clutches of apartheid. Being the children of Nelson Mandela, the Daily Vox asked eight young people four questions: What Nelson Mandela Day Means to you, what have you done for your 67 minutes, what you will do this year and whether or not you think Nelson Mandela Day actually resonates with the Born Free Generation. 

This is what they had to say:

Nosipho Mbatha, 21, part-time English tutor. 

It’s an opportunity for people to do a good deed. Embodying the principle of self-sacrifice, of giving and paying it forward in the same vein as Nelson Mandela. And giving your time, giving your time to help, to give back to society, for no other reason than because it’s a good thing to do. 

Nosipho Mbatha

Not a lot of charity work in my 67 minutes but this year I did plan to change it. But I do think that the 67 minutes should be a catalyst to do charity work throughout the year. I’m not sure what I’m going to do this year but maybe something like a cleanup or something environmentally geared or something in that direction. 

I don’t think it really resonates with younger people as much. It definitely seems more important to older people, like 29-30 or older.  I feel like younger people know about Nelson Mandela from like textbooks, you know. Older people seem to know more about him and the day is more important for them. 

Cwenga France, 23, fundraiser.  

It’s just a day, for me, to do good work, I guess.

I have done things. I went on to an orphanage, playing with the kids and giving [people] money. I don’t plan to do anything this year. 

For most, I don’t think it means anything. It’s just another day, a celebration of Nelson Mandela Day. For most of them, they really don’t understand, they don’t do anything on the day, it’s just another day. I don’t think they don’t understand him. 

Tamia Adolph, 22, university student (BA Honours, English)


I mean, what I like about the day is, not much about who it’s for, but I like that we make the day about helping people. That’s what I like about that day. Not really about Nelson Mandela and what he did for South Africa or whatever, but more so about helping people where you can. About charity. I would prefer to focus on that aspect of it. 

I have done things for 67 minutes, I don’t think I did last year but I have before. I would like to do something this year, I just have to think of a cause. 

I honestly don’t think we care just because of who he is. Particularly the born free generation, we’re not really responsive Nelson Mandela. It’s more about charity than him.

Werner Labuschagne, 22, university student (BA Honours, English)

Werner Labuschagne

It means giving up just a little of your own time for the betterment of your community

I might do something this year. 

I think it resonates because it is a reminder that our country has been liberated through self-sacrifice for the benefit of all. 67 minutes of your time does not hold a candle to what Mandela did for the country, but it makes us feel like we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves

Khumo Molefe, 23, Transformation Consultant 

Khumo Molefe

Well, to me personally, it represents the celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life and the apartheid struggle. What black people, Indian people, coloured people, everyone who was discriminated against went through. 

Two years ago we painted at a school in Soweto, I can’t remember the name. Last year, we went to a charity here in Northgate – an orphanage – and spent the entire day playing with kids and giving them gifts according to their wishlist, the wishlist had everything they need. So as a company and as an individual, I’ve done a lot. This year I plan on doing something but in my own capacity. I’m planning on giving away my old clothes and giving food to the homeless. 

I don’t really think so because as much as it’s a celebration, it’s also a slap in the face. After so many years of democracy, we still have people who are millennials and don’t have jobs, don’t have qualifications and still paying things like black tax, they’re still not financially free. So I think it doesn’t resonate with them because there’s still a long way to go in terms of the youth. I think the government has failed the youth. 

Hesthea Schaefer, 24, University (Law)

Hesthea Schaefer

To me, it’s a day dedicated to giving back. 

Yes. Every year I make sandwiches and I give them to a lady who distributes them at a primary school in Diepsloot. 

I think a lot of youngsters today if it wasn’t for that they would have missed a lot of opportunities. It helped a lot of kids get in school get access to books, all these things. When companies donate and stuff, they do it with the initiative of Nelson Mandela Day behind them. I don’t think they understand the significance because they live in a different time. I don’t think they realise the impact Nelson Mandela really had. I think their parents would understand how significant it really is. 

Amanda Lande, 23, university student studying a (BA Honours, applied linguistics) 

Amanda Lande

To me personally, it means nothing. 

I feel like whatever is done in the 67 minutes can be done on any other day. I do stuff but not for the day. 

Not really, I don’t think the day really resonates with today’s youth.

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