UN chief extols Nelson Mandela's virtues

New York, US (PANA) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday described former South African President Nelson Mandela, as "an inspirational figure who has served as a role model for countless people around the world.

"Nelson Mandela has been a lawyer and a freedom fighter, a political prisoner, a peacemaker and president. A healer of nations and a mentor to generations, Nelson Mandela or Madiba, as he is affectionately known by millions, is a living symbol of wisdom, courage and integrity,'' Ban said in a message to mark Mandela's 93rd birthday.

He stated: "As we celebrate his 93rd birthday and this second Nelson Mandela International Day, I join with the Nelson Mandela Foundation in encouraging people around the globe to perform 67 minutes of public service on Mandela Day, one minute for every year of Mandela’s own service to humanity."

He also noted that, "Nelson Mandela himself once said: `We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference'. Let us embrace this message.

"Tutor a child. Feed the hungry. Volunteer your time at a local hospital or community centre. Make the world a better place.

"Together, the best way we can thank Nelson Mandela for his work is by taking action for others and inspiring change,'' Ban said.

PANA reported that to mark the second annual Nelson Mandela International Day, the UN encouraged people around the globe to perform 67 minutes of public service – one minute for every year of the South African leader’s own service to humanity.

The call is part of the "Take Action! Inspire Change'' campaign by the Mandela Foundation, in recognition of the contributions made by Mandela, as a human rights lawyer, freedom fighter, prisoner of conscience, international peacemaker and the first democratically-elected president of a free South Africa.

In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July, Mandela’s birthday, as "Nelson Mandela International Day”, in recognition of his contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.

On Monday, Mandela’s 93rd birthday, senior officials, diplomats and staff from the UN will gather in New York’s Central Park to perform public service to mark the day.

Also in New York, an interactive exhibit called ``Take Action! Inspire Change” will be displayed at UN headquarters in New York, at which visitors can learn about Mandela through a range of video and audio materials, as well as make their pledge to "67 minutes of service" in a message that will be sent to Mandela himself.

Also, other UN offices around the world will mark the day by undertaking activities in their local communities.
-0- PANA AA/BOS 18July2011

18 july 2011 16:02:51

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