Nelson Mandela: A Leader Who Listened

Nelson Mandela devoted his life to fighting for the freedom of children. He championed the value of education and advocated for all South African children to have access to books and schooling.

July 18 marks Mandela's birthday, and a celebration of his legacy as a civil rights leader who served as the first Black president of South Africa. It is known as Nelson Mandela International Day.

"Live life as though nobody is watching, & express yourself as though everyone is listening." —Nelson Mandela

This date also marks World Listening Day (WLD), a celebration of understanding the world through sound. This year, we seek connections between these two global celebrations and reflect upon the legacy of a world leader known for "his willingness to listen and learn."


67 MINUTES OF @HOME ACTIVITIES

​​“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.” ​​

Mandela devoted 67 years to public service. Join us in exploring various forms of listening—from soundscapes in nature, to music, to the voices of our community members.

LET'S TAKE A SOUNDWALK! 

Sound tells a story. Whether from the bustle of the city or the quiet of the wilderness, one way to focus on the many sounds around you is through a joyful soundwalk. Let your ears guide your journey of mindfulness as you listen, imagine, and explore!

  • Place your other senses to the side & focus on listening.
     
  • What do you hear?
     
  • Close your eyes & listen.
    How does this change what you hear?
     
  • Make a field recording of what you hear.
     
  • Play your recording back later.
    What new sounds do you hear when listening to it from home?
     
  • Ask your child to draw what they hear.
     
  • Listen to field recordings from last year's WLD.
     
  • Visit soundscapes from Wild Sanctuary.

BACK-TO-BACK: CONFLICT RESOLUTION GAMES

Sit back-to-back, but heart-to-heart, with a friend, sibling, or caregiver:

  • Ask one person to describe a time they experienced a conflict that eventually led to peace.
  • Ask the second person to draw what emotions they’re hearing using color, line, and rhythm.
  • Then swap places & repeat.
  • Share what you learned!

Work together to solve a problem:

  • Find a partner (child-to-child or adult-to-adult).
  • Press your backs together.
  • Work together to sit down slowly—without the use of your hands!
  • Once seated, take a moment to celebrate cooperation, verbal communication, and working as a team!
  • Now, try to stand back up while still pressing your backs together and moving your feet close to your bottom.

A PLAYLIST FOR PEACE
World Listening Day is also a chance to celebrate music! As Wild Sanctuary shares, "Without sound...there would be no music, no legend, no voice to stir the soul, evoke the memory, or tranpsort the spirit...Within a changing world, what you listen to matters!"

And it was music that brought the story of Mandela to the world during a 1988 concert that led to his release from prison. 

LISTEN:
Enjoy music from around the world, written in honor of Nelson Mandela, and ask children:

  • How did the songs make you feel?
     
  • What did the songs make you think about?
     
  • What pictures does your mind draw as you listen to the songs?
     
  • What songs would you add to your own Playlist for Peace?

Songs About Nelson Mandela:

“Music and dancing makes me at peace with the world...and makes me at peace with myself." 

    Songs About Freedom:
    Enjoy music from a selection of our Building Bridges Family Music Festival artists!

    “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” 

    • ONE Aaron Nigel Smith: Feat. Dubtonic Kru & Tommy Shepherd
    • Give Me Freedom Aaron Nigel Smith: BIG UP! BIG FUN

    “If people can learn to hate they can be taught to love, for the love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” 



    “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, & if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”


    WATCH:
    Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk: The Danger of a Single Story
    For Older Children & Adults

    The Life & Times of Nelson Mandela:
    Animated Legacy Comic Series
    Part I: 2 minutes
    Part II: 3 minutes
    Part III: 3 minutes
    Part IV: 2 minutes 


    READ:

    "Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. The system of apartheid robbed many children of their right to a decent education and of the joy of reading. This joy is one that I have treasured all my life, and it is one I wish for all South Africans."

    Enjoy these children's books about Nelson Mandela and freedom with your family:

    Long Walk to Freedom abridged by Chris Van Wyk
    The official children's version of Mandela's bestselling autobiography.

    Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson 
     
    Grandad Mandela by Zindzi, Ziwelene & Zazi Mandela 

    Six Crows by Leo Lionni

    Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales by Nelson Mandela 

    Dreams of Freedom in Words & Pictures
    Amnesty International UK: Grades 2–6
    Worldwide champions of human rights, including Mandela, share dreams of freedom.

    Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book
    Nelson Mandela Foundation
    Older Children & Adults
    A graphic novel expanded from a series of eight comics. NPR coverage: Luminous Comic Book Reveals Mandela's Resilience.

    "Reading allows you to travel without embarking on a journey." —Zindzi Mandela