South Africans have started marking the first anniversary of the death of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, who died last year at the age of 95.

Official ceremonies to mark the passing of the former South African leader will include an interfaith prayer service early on Friday, followed by a wreath-laying commemoration by veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle, as well as a cricket match. 

Bells, hooters, and traditional horns called vuvuzelas, will be sounded for three minutes and seven seconds, followed by three minutes of silence, combined to equal a six-minute and seven-second ceremony designed to symbolise Mandela's 67 years of public service. 

Many other events are due to take place over the weekend and beyond, including widespread artistic performances, as a way of remembering and celebrating the former president who led the country out of the apartheid era after enduring 27 years in prison.

Fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu called on South Africans to emulate Mandela's example in a statement to mark the anniversary.

"Our obligation to Madiba is to continue to build the society he envisaged, to follow his example," Tutu said, referring to Mandela by his clan name.

"A society founded on human rights, in which all can share in the rich bounty God bestowed on our country. In which all can live in dignity, together. A society of better tomorrows for all."

'Honour Mandela's legacy'

Friday's wreath-laying ceremony in Pretoria will start events to mark one year since Mandela passed away after a long illness. His death was met with a worldwide outpouring of grief.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead the three-minute moment of silence at 0800 GMT, followed by a friendly cricket match, dubbed the Mandela Legacy Cup, between South Africa's national rugby and cricket teams at 1300GMT.

Over the weekend, artists and performers will hold centre stage at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which has launched an exhibition in honour of the life and work of its namesake.

Motorcyclists across the country have also been called on to dedicate their traditional Sunday morning rides to the anti-apartheid hero.

Madiba set South Africa on a course towards reconciliation after he emerged unbowed from nearly three decades in prison in 1990 and became the country's first president to be elected by universal suffrage in 1994.

His one-time jailer FW de Klerk, who served as the country's State President and who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela in 1993 for his part in ending apartheid, called on South Africans to honour his legacy.

"Although Nelson Mandela is no longer physically with us his legacy remains to guide us," he said in a statement marking the anniversary.

Source: Agencies