CAPE TOWN, July 18 (Xinhua) -- South African President Jacob Zuma on Friday called on his countrymen to make every day a Mandela Day by doing good deeds at all times, and by working together to move the country forward.
He was speaking as millions of South Africans celebrated Nelson Mandela International Day by spending 67 minutes of their time cleaning up the environment and doing community work for the good of others.
The 67 minutes symbolize the 67 years that Mandela spent fighting for social justice to make the world a better place.
Celebrated across the globe in honor of late South African president Nelson Mandela's birthday on July 18, the Mandela International Day was formally recognized by the UN General Assembly in 2009.
This was the first Nelson Mandela International Day after the death of the anti-apartheid icon on December 5 last year.
Zuma joined a celebration at Mvezo, Eastern Cape Province, the native place of Mandela.
"We meet here today, on this very important day particularly for us as South Africans, a day declared to be International Mandela day," Zuma told a crowd.
"As we meet here today celebrating the life and times of the founding father of our democracy President Nelson Mandela, the whole country and the world over are abuzz celebrating with us," Zuma said.
The theme of this year's Mandela Day was Operation Clean Up for Madiba (Mandela).
South Africans across the lengths and breadths of the country were dedicating at least 67 minutes of their time to engage in a major cleaning up exercises of their cities, towns, villages, schools to make the country clean and habitable.
The cleanup campaign, Zuma said, is also designed to encourage cooperation and working together to build the country. It is meant to enhance nation building and cohesion, while also promoting environmental awareness and pride in the surroundings no matter how humble they may be.
Zuma opened a Mandela Museum and then unveiled a giant statue of Mandela at Mvezo.
"Today as we unveil this life size statue of our President we want to say his memory indeed lives on. This statue is but part of the series of projects we are engaged in as government to try write our own history and make bold to imprint the legacy of people that stand tall in their contribution to the democracy we enjoy today," Zuma said.
He said Mandela "remains a symbol of hope for us."
"He gave us hope in the oasis of hopelessness. He indeed belongs to the generation of our forebears which will remain irreplaceable," said Zuma.
"Tata (Mandela) represented everything good and noble about us. He was among us, but above us."
People learn through their life that they can never wait for the right time to do good, said Zuma.
"Whatever good we can do, no matter how small, we must do it. Today what's left of him is the impact he made through his exemplary life. As we emulate his life, let's remember that he did all he could do, it is now in our hands."