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Take action. Inspire change. Make every day a Mandela Day (18 July)

by Hannah Knight

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To celebrate the birth of Nelson Mandela, promote equality and encourage us to create a better world for all.

Preparation and materials


  1. Show first image.

    Ask the children, ‘Can anyone describe what prejudice is?’, then, ‘Can anyone explain what “equality’ is? Why is it important?’

  2. Undertake the following activity, which will take about five minutes.

    Select five children and give one lemon or apple to each of them. Then ask the children to ‘get to know’ their lemon or apple. The children will examine their lemons or apples – smell them, touch them, throw them in the air and roll them around. 

    After a few minutes, collect the lemons or apples in the basket, then ask the children to find their lemons or apples. Most of the children will recognize their lemons or apples.

    Next, ask the children to describe how they recognized their lemons or apples. Maybe theirs was big, marked on one side or had some dents or bruises. 

    Now talk about how people, too, come in different sizes, different shapes, different shades of colour and have different ‘dents and bruises’.

  3. Show second image.

    Tell the children that you are now going the explore the question ‘What is prejudice?’

    What happened with the lemons or apples happens with people, too, and shows that we are all different. What a boring world it would be if we all looked the same.

    Think of your classmates. Everyone in your class will look different from everyone else. Some may be tall, some may be short, some may have brown hair and some may have blonde hair.

    Unfortunately, people can be judged for being different, but it is our job to look after each other and appreciate each other for who we are on the inside.

  4. Show third image.

    Tell the children that on a certain day, a hero was born.

    The 18 July is celebrated in many countries as a reminder of Nelson Mandela’s achievements.

    Nelson Mandela was a black man living in South Africa who believed that the colour of people’s skin should not cause them to be treated differently. 

    When Mandela was a young boy, most black people in South Africa were poor. They worked as servants on farms, factories and in gold mines. In those days, black people and white people could not marry, share a table in a restaurant or even sit together on a bus. Imagine if you could not play with some of your friends in the playground just because they looked a little different from you. That would be very unfair.

    Mandela wanted to change this. He believed that we should all be offered the same opportunities in life regardless of the colour of our skin and so he fought for 27 years until his dream of ‘equality’ came true.

  5. Show fourth image.

    Mandela was someone who stood up for what he believed in.

    He was sent to prison for his beliefs – for a long 27 years. He quickly became the most famous prisoner in the world.

    Nelson Mandela’s courage and compassion made people realize that he was not a criminal, but someone who wanted to help his fellow people.

    As the years went by, more and more people cried in the streets, ‘Free Nelson Mandela’. At last, in 1988, South Africa began to listen and made some big changes. One change was to let black pupils into white schools so that all children could have a fair and happy education.

  6. Show fifth image.

    Nelson Mandela was someone who believed that dreams do come true.

    Who can tell me what a ‘president’ is? 

    In 1994, black people were finally allowed to vote for their chosen president, which means they were allowed to make decisions for their country. Can you guess who became the first ever black president of South Africa? Yes, that’s right – Nelson Mandela.

  7. We can all learn from Nelson Mandela. He never gave up, even when people punished him and showed him hate. He found his dream and pursued it to the end, which goes to show that if you all work hard – by getting your homework done on time, for example – and love and respect the people around you, by maybe inviting a new friend to play with you or helping out your mums and dads at home, you, too, could achieve your dreams and help to make the world a happier place. Mandela once said, ‘We have all been put on this Earth together and it will be a better place for all, if we all work as a team.’ 

    So, this summer, try to make every day a Mandela Day. 

Time for reflection

Close your eyes and think of all the things you have to be thankful for this summer. For being safe, for never going hungry, your friends and family who love you and for being lucky enough to be different from everyone else.


‘Gimme hope, Jo’anna’ by Eddy Grant
‘House of exile’ by Lucky Dube

Publication date: July 2014   (Vol.16 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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