Hands down my first choice would be Nelson Mandela.
Lawyer. Freedom fighter. Political prisoner. Peacemaker. President.
The man’s pretty much done it all.
And he’s done it with courage, grace and dignity.
Which is why Mandela, or “Madiba”, as he is affectionately known in South Africa, is the perfect person to launch a new series called “Where Does Culture Take You?” where we’ll feature people whose careers and lives bring them in contact with diverse cultures on a regular basis.
And what better day to launch the series than today, July 18, Mandela’s 93rd birthday, and the second annual Nelson Mandela Day?
Because when it comes tolerance and respect for all people, he really set the bar high.
The man doesn’t just promote these values. He lives them.
Because, after more than two decades as a political prisoner, he forgave his adversaries and helped his country through a peaceful transition.
Because, when it comes to communicating across, and in spite of differences, he really “gets it”. He even learned Afrikaans, the language of the prison guards, because, as he said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Because today, in his 90th decade, Mandela’s still out there, inspiring people all over the world to be agents of change and forces for good.
In 2009 the United Nations declared July 18 “Nelson Mandela International Day”.
To commemorate, the Nelson Mandela Foundation encourages people to perform 67 minutes of public service on Mandela Day – one minute for every year of Nelson Mandela’s own service to humanity.
You can get ideas for celebrating Mandela Day or you can come up with your own service ideas.
So, what are you going to do to today to celebrate Mandela Day? I’d love to hear so let me know in the comments below.