We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians, remarked Mandela in 1997 on the International Day of Solidarity, referring to the plight of the Palestinians, because of Israeli occupation of their land.
This was one of many instances where the famous anti-apartheid revolutionary and South African leader voiced concerns for the oppressed people of the world.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, born on 18 July 1918, struggled his entire life fighting the apartheid regime of South Africa, which dominated and discriminated against South Africa's black majority population.
Mandela, affectionately referred to as 'Madiba' as well as 'Father of the Nation' in South Africa, became a global icon and Nobel laureate in the 1990s when he led South Africa to become a democracy after half a century of racist policies and segregation by the White minority government.
Mandela's imprisonment for 27 years during his long struggle to end racial segregation as well as his initiatives to facilitate reconciliation between the different races of South Africa upon his release made him a gigantic figure in world politics.
The veteran activist and first democratically elected President of South Africa (1994-1999) spent the final years of his life advocating for the rights of various oppressed groups of the world.
He talked about emancipation of all people and peaceful resolution of all disputes, one of which was the long-running conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Israel, the self styled 'Nation-State of the Jewish People', from its victory in the Six Day War over the Arabs in 1967 has continued to control the Palestinian territories which is inhabited by 4.4 million people (mostly Muslim Arabs).
Though Israel officially 'disengaged' from Gaza in 2005, it effectively controls both Gaza and the West Bank (collective known as Palestinian Territories) while denying the Palestinians living in those areas basic human rights.
Israel has also been building illegal settlements for decades, which ironically house Israeli settler Jews who have all the rights and privileges of a developed country, such as representation in the Israeli parliament, government funding for business ventures, and subsidised properties.
The Israeli government's policy of 'Hafrada' (meaning 'Separation'), which basically institutionalises the discrimination that the authorities engage in, has led many to compare Israel to apartheid South Africa, which Nelson Mandela fought for half a century to bring down.
Mandela, being true to his convictions, always supported the Palestinian people and even in the face of fierce criticism by various Jewish groups, called Yasser Arafat (the leader of Palestinian Liberation Organisation) a 'comrade in arms'.
He resented Israel's military cooperation with the racist apartheid regime of South Africa during his long imprisonment. He described Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations as "hollow" as long as Israel continues to occupy Palestinian lands captured in 1967. To avoid creation of an apartheid society, he strongly advocated for a two-state solution.
Unfortunately, his vision for conflict resolution in the Middle East has not materialised even years after his demise in 2013.
On the contrary, Israel has continued to increase its illegal settlements and expand its military control of the Occupied Territories to a point where the Palestinians are now kept in isolated swaths of lands under Israeli military rule with no sovereignty, no rights and no say in the way they are governed.
With prominent Israeli leaders such as Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett all opposing a sovereign Palestinian state and the international community remaining silent on the issue, Nelson Mandela's vision of equality for Palestinians has become a distant dream today.
Discrimination and domination of one people over another was labeled "the crime of apartheid" by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 2002, and Israel has committed it in many ways.
However this horrendous practice is by no means unique in the case of the Israelis. Even after decades since the fall of apartheid in South Africa and the global community's commitment to ensure self-determination of all people, discrimination on the basis of religion (internment of Uyghurs by China), discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity (genocide of the Rohingyas in Myanmar) and discrimination on the basis of gender (pay gaps and sexist policies by various governments) have been rampant.
India, the world's largest democracy, has also been accused of engaging in discriminatory acts.
For example, the current Indian government, led by the right-wing Hindu nationalist party BJP, has stripped Kashmir of its statehood, subjecting Kashmiris to harsh central government policies under a massive military presence.
It has also sought to strip millions of people in the Indian state of Assam of their citizenship for supposed electoral advantage. People have been marginalised and victimised on the basis of their religion and ethnicity.
Genocidal military operations against the Rohingyas - creating an exodus of 750,000 people who came to Bangladesh - as well as domination of other minorities on the basis of religion and ethnicity by the ethnic Burmese authority in Myanmar, is an example of how basic human rights of certain groups are being trampled, as is the detention by the Chinese government of one million Uyghur Muslims in Xingxiang province.
The developed world is not absolved of discriminatory actions as well. Racist attacks on Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians have increased in the US these past few years as has anti-immigration sentiments in the UK and other European countries, leading to abuses and violence against minorities.
Rise of nationalist and right wing leaders in the US, Brazil, Hungary, Poland, France also point towards this dangerous trend.
All of these paint a grim picture of our world today, something that should be considered as a massive failure of humanity which saw the promise of an egalitarian world in Mandela's victory against the apartheid regime in 1990s and failed to realise that vision into reality.
Yet there is a glimmer of hope here as well. The fact that Nelson Mandela, once regarded as 'a lost cause' and a terrorist by many states, is a global icon and his ideals are now widely cherished, must be regarded as an achievement.
A world where people root for the oppressed and talk about their plights in 'Nelson Mandela Day' is to be celebrated.
However, we have to stop the reversal of global progressive movements and social reforms, to create a world where apartheids and discriminatory societies are a thing of the past.
Then and only then can we truly live up to our high ideals and turn the vision of Nelson Mandela into reality.