JOHANNESBURG: People around the world will celebrate “Mandela Day” Friday for the first time since the iconic South African leader’s death by doing good deeds on what would have been his 96th birthday.
For the past five years millions have volunteered 67 minutes of their time on July 18 for the common good to mark Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of activism for South Africa’s freedom.
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 started in Johannesburg and New York in 2009, and has expanded to 126 countries this year.
For the first Mandela Day after his passing, events are planned in Paris, New York, Dallas, London, Edinburgh and Glasgow, while a film portraying his life will premiere in China.
Meanwhile President Jacob Zuma has called on South Africans to bring out their brooms and mops and help spruce up their country.
“This year, we have decided to honour Madiba’s memory through a massive ‘Operation Clean Up for Madiba’ campaign,” he said, using a respectful tribal name to refer to the country’s first black president.
“We should demonstrate our love for our beautiful country by cleaning our surroundings, together.
“In this way, we will be promoting working together to build our beautiful country, which is what Madiba taught us as South Africans,” he added.
Authorities have encouraged citizens to clear litter from clinics and schools, though some taxpayers grumble that that is the government’s job.
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.