SHAFAQNA -Â South Africans on Saturday honored their late President Nelson Mandelaâ€™s struggle for freedom by volunteering 67 minutes of their time to help others on his birthday.
â€œI volunteered at an orphanage near my home. I baked cakes and distributed them to the orphans,â€ said Johannesburg resident Precious Kgomitso.
She said she was happy to have done a good deed in memory of the late anti-apartheid hero who spent 67 years of his life struggling for the liberation of South Africa.
â€œI participated in cleaning a street together with other community members in my area,â€ Johannesburg resident Mohammed Noordein, 27 said.Â â€œTo me, the name Mandela signifies unity and forgivenessâ€
Mandelaâ€™s birthday on July 18 was officially endorsed by the United Nations in 2009 as International Nelson Mandela Day. It is celebrated across the world.
South African Foreign Affairs Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and members of the diplomatic community in South Africa used their 67 minutes to cook, clean and deliver food parcels at a community center and orphanage in Pretoria.
The foreign ministry said the participation of the diplomatic community in the charity work signified the international communityâ€™s honor and appreciation of Mandelaâ€™s example of selfless service.
South African President Jacob Zuma used the day to urge South Africans to dedicate themselves to building a united and caring society in honor of the legacy of the late anti-apartheid icon.
â€œMadiba, the founding father of our democracy, dedicated 67 years of his life to the struggle to create a better South Africa,â€ Zuma said, using Mandelaâ€™s tribal name Madiba.Â â€œIn his memory, let us rededicate ourselves to unity, love, forgiveness, reconciliation, respect for one another and tolerance.â€
Zuma also urged South Africans to eliminate social ills from their communities, such as the abuse of women and children and the abuse of drugs and other substances.
Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years by the former white minority government for opposing apartheid rule.
He was freed from prison in 1990 and elected as the countryâ€™s first black president in 1994. He served for five years and then retired from office.
Mandela, who preached reconciliation and forgiveness, died in December 2013, at the age of 95, but is still admired by many across the globe.