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Africa

First Mandela Day observed worldwide

Events to honour anti-apartheid icon takes places in 126 nations as South Africans dedicate time to improve country.

Last updated: 18 Jul 2014 19:52
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The call to do good deeds in his name on July 18 started in Johannesburg and New York in 2009 [EPA]

People around the world have paid homage to the memory of Nelson Mandela by volunteering 67 minutes of their time for the common good to mark the anti-apartheid activist's birthday.

For the first "Mandela Day" since his death, events were planned in Paris, New York, Dallas, London, Edinburgh and Glasgow, while a film portraying his life was to premiere in China on Friday.

Thousands across the globe donated 67 minutes of their time for the common good to mark Mandela's 67 years of activism for South Africa's freedom.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma called on South Africans to bring out their brooms and mops and help spruce up their country.

"In this way, we will be promoting working together to build our beautiful country, which is what Madiba taught us as South Africans," he said, using a respectful tribal name to refer to the country's first black president.

Zuma himself helped to clean a school in Mvezo in the Eastern Cape, the village where Mandela was born on July 18, 1918.  

Government officials, opposition politicians and trade unionists also set aside an hour to volunteer - many with an eye on the free publicity.

Around the country, citizens cleaned schools, planted vegetables and adopted penguins to celebrate "Mandela Day" for the first time since the death of the iconic leader on what would have been his 96th birthday.

Images of people doing good deeds or famous quotes of the late revered peacemaker were posted on social media and news outlets, remembering the long life of the anti-apartheid hero.

Smiling statesman 

Mandela's widow Graca Machel helped to pack food at an initiative to feed hungry children."Wherever Madiba is today, you can be sure he's smiling," Machel was quoted as saying by local newspaper The Star.

Citizen activist group LeadSA encouraged South Africans to plant vegetable gardens and donate food to feeding schemes "in the true spirit of active citizenship".

Search engine Google dedicated its daily doodle - the changing logo on its homepage - to Mandela with a drawing of the smiling statesman and a cartoon of his life.

Mandela died on December 5 last year aged 95 after a lengthy illness.

Tens of thousands of mourners, including world leaders, attended memorial services leading up to his funeral.

The call to do good deeds in his name on July 18 started in Johannesburg and New York in 2009. Supported by the UN, it has become a global event and expanded to 126 countries this year.

Newspapers weighed in with suggestions to volunteer in orphanages, donate books to schools or blankets to the homeless - or even to sterilise stray cats.

Mandela spent 27 years in prison during his struggle against white-minority rule, but forgave his former oppressors when the apartheid regime ended with free elections in 1994.

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Source:
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