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

Suitable for Key Stage 3/4


To celebrate the life and achievements of Nelson Mandela and emphasize the importance of diversity in society.

Preparation and materials


  1. Start by drawing attention to the definition of discrimination.
    Put your hand up if you have ever experienced or witnessed discrimination? (At school or on the news, for example.)

    The number of hands shows that prejudice affects us all in everyday life. It is easy to judge and make assumptions, but people sometimes find it quite a challenge to accept the differences they notice in others.

    Did you know that children can start to understand prejudice and discrimination by the time they are three years old? At the age of three, they can distinguish between physical traits (such as hair colour, height, weight) and social values (such as sex, race and social class).

    By the time young children enter preschool, they can already note how certain characteristics and social values will affect the way in which people see them and their peers. The media is one of the culprits. We can be led to believe that certain groups are more favourable than others when, in actual fact, we are all equal.

  2. How many of you watch the TV show Britain’s Got Talent?

    This show is an example of how the media encourage us to judge and make fun of people for the purposes of entertainment when its success should be based on Britain’s diversity.

  3. Display the definition of diversity.

    So, promoting diversity is the opposite of discrimination as it involves the acceptance of and having respect for our individual differences. These differences can include race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities and religious and political beliefs. It involves celebrating the diversity of humankind – something that Nelson Mandela was very passionate about.

  4. Show first image.

    Let us now look at the life of Nelson Mandela.

    He was born in Mvezo, Transkei in south east South Africa, which, at the time, segregated black and white people. Black people had been stripped of their human rights.

    Show second image.

    In 1942, Mandela became a qualified lawyer and used his influence to preach his belief in equality. Mandela believed that we should all be offered the same opportunities in life regardless of the colour of our skin and this controversial belief led to Mandela being arrested and sent to Robben Island prison for 27 long years.

  5. Mandela rapidly became the most famous prisoner in the world and, as the years went by, more and more people pleaded for his release. At last, in 1988, South Africa began to listen and the journey to equality began.

    As a result, the government implemented several changes, including allowing black pupils into 'white' schools. In 1994, Mandela became the first ever black president of South Africa and, from that point onwards, the system of racial discrimination in the country slowly crumbled. This extraordinary event even led to black people having to right to vote in elections in South Africa. Mandela changed the course of history in his country.

  6. Show third image.

    The 18 July is celebrated in many countries as a reminder of Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary achievements. His courage, determination and compassion have touched many hearts and inspired and encouraged people all over the world to put others first. 

    Discrimination has been around for centuries, but people who have taken action, such as Nelson Mandela, have helped to create the more diverse and accepting society we now live in.

    Play one or more of the video clips at this point, if showing.

  7. Show fourth image.

    We can all learn from Nelson Mandela’s legacy. He was punished and criticized for his beliefs, but his courage allowed him to pursue his dream right to the very end. 

    It is thanks to people like him that we have diversity in schools, universities, workplaces and the government. This has introduced us to food from different cultures, new languages, new talents and, most importantly, it has brought some peace between countries.

    Show fifth image.

    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, next time you hear someone being discriminated against in the media or real life, remember, you can take action, inspire change and make every day a Mandela Day.


Time for reflection

Close your eyes and think of ways in which you can embrace diversity this summer and how you can put others before yourselves. Maybe you could introduce a new friend into your group of friends or volunteer in your local community. Maybe you could try foods from a different culture or start to learn a new language.

Remember how lucky we all are to be unique and think what you can do to carry on Mandela’s legacy.


‘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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