In November 2009 the United Nations’ (UN) through the General Assembly Resolution A/RES/64/13 declared 18 July, the birthday of Nelson Mandela, as “Nelson Mandela International Day” in recognition of his contribution, among others, to the promotion of the culture of peace and freedom. Unfortunately this year’s celebration is being marked at a time the legend is bedridden. We wish him a happy 95th birthday, speedy recovery and more years ahead.

By declaring this Day the World Body has recognized his values and dedication to the welfare of humans regardless of matters of race and origin. For us as Africans and particularly Blacks, this is yet another testimony that we are not different from other humans. Though we had played pivotal role in human advancement, we have been considered for a long time, even today to some extent, as secondary to other races. However in all endeavors- slavery, colonialism, apartheid etc. – aimed at subduing us and annihilating our history and culture, we have been able to survive.

Therefore this Day should be for us one of deep reflection and introspection in order to restitute the important role we have played and are playing in the advancement of humanity but more importantly our cultures to serve as bedrocks of development.

Nelson Mandela is a symbol of resistance, tolerance, patience, dedication and commitment to peace and justice. It should be a duty and responsibility for us to emulate the values he stood for all his life. He will always stay on our memories for his popular statement: “We can change the World and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.”

We, in the All Africa Students Union (AASU), believe that we can change Africa and make it a better place. It is in our hands, as Africans, to make a difference. To be able to realize that, we need the contributions of each and every one and in particular selfless leaders inspired by people like Nelson Mandela totally devoted to uplift the African people from their current economic and social doldrums.

We would like to call on our leaders to rise above personal gains and be promoters, guarantors and protectors of the general interests of their people.

We call for the immediate integration of African countries as recent events in Somalia, Mali, and Central African Republic (CAR) etc., had, once again, brought to the fore the issue of the viability of African states as they stand now.

We call for the introduction of a common travel document and the respect of the rights of Africans to move freely across the continent and settle at the place of their choice.

Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years to helping others, thus AASU joins a call by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to devote 67 minutes of time to extend help to the needy across the world, as a way to mark Nelson Mandela International Day.

Long live Nelson Mandela!

All for World peace and justice!

Secretary General (Head Of Mission)