World Bulletin / News Desk
Millions of South Africans came together on Monday to honor the country’s iconic anti-apartheid hero on International Nelson Mandela Day.
Citizens dedicated 67 minutes in humanitarian efforts as a tribute to South Africa’s first democratically elected president who sacrificed 67 years for his country’s liberation.
The international day was officially endorsed by the United Nations in 2009 and is commemorated annually on July 18.
President Jacob Zuma, in a statement said citizens would take part in “caring for the sick, orphans and vulnerable children, the aged, and cleaning our environment” which would promote “national unity and cohesion in our country”.
Struggle icon Desmond Tutu clocked in his 67 minutes in Cape Town’s Gugulethu township, blessing a newly developed community garden for I & J Unakho Children’s Home.
“Our people must know that they are important,” Tutu told an assembled crowd. “We want this place to become a real home for those children and people suffering every day.”
Julius Bonani and his wife established the orphanage 14 years ago to care for orphans infected with HIV.
The South African government has celebrated Mandela Day by refurnishing libraries, providing houses to families and supporting hospitals.
While events and activities to honor the late icon are taking place across the country, some citizens are dedicating their 67 minutes in their own way.
“I spent time cleaning a dirty street in my neighborhood,” Johannesburg resident Muhidin Mohammed told Anadolu Agency.
Others, like Michael van der Waal, extended efforts to impoverished schools, promoting literacy.
“Reading is a skill that can bring these children to better understand their world and education will contribute to the benefit of each child of our nation,” he said.
Known as the ‘father of the nation’ after having spent 27 years in prison for fighting the country's apartheid regime, youths also laid flowers at Cape Town parliament’s Mandela statue.