Posted on Tuesday, 19 July 2016 07:50

Honouring the spirit of Mandela

By Crystal Orderson in Cape Town

Photo©Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP/SIPASouth Africans on Monday commemorated Nelson Mandela Day, a day where the country puts aside its differences with people donating their time to work for the less privileged in honour of the country's first post-apartheid leader, Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela International Day was set up in recognition of Mandela's birthday by a unanimous decision of the United Nations General Assembly on 18 July, 2009.

we invoke the spirit of the many people, whose sacrifice and service to your people have built this country

From cleaning schools, donating time at old age homes, painting buildings, cooking food, South Africans from all walks of life give of their time to make a difference in their communities.

In Soweto, a poor township on the outskirts of the commercial capital, Johannesburg, Mandela's former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela showed her support for the day.

"Today, we invoke the spirit of the many people, whose sacrifice and service to your people have built this country," she said.

Addressing several volunteers, Madikizela-Mandela said "this is a day for all of us to set a collective goal we can all work towards, that is bettering the lives of people around us".

President Jacob Zuma asked the country to heed the late Nelson Mandela's call "for this day to be used to dedicate 67 minutes to doing good deeds in our communities".

"As we remember our beloved Madiba‚ South Africans will take to the streets and engage in all kinds of meaningful and constructive community work‚" he said.

"We wish all our people well, as they follow in Tata's footsteps in this manner. Caring for the sick‚ orphans and vulnerable children‚ the aged, cleaning our environment and surroundings‚ cleaning our schools are all activities that also contribute to promoting national unity and cohesion in our country."

The day was inspired by a call Mandela made a year earlier, for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world's social injustices.

Mandela was born on 18 July 1918, and died on 5 December 2013 aged 95.

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