The Chinese community in South Africa joined the rest of the world on Saturday in commemorating the Nelson Mandela International Day by dedicating themselves to building a united and more caring society.
The Mandela Day, which falls on Mandela's birthday on July 18, was officially declared as a globally-celebrated event by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009. On this day, people around the world contribute 67 minutes of their time to improve their community in one way or another. The 67 minutes symbolize the 67 years that Mandela spent fighting for social justice to make the world a better place.
In South Africa, some cleaned streets, some painted structures of charity organisations, some donated meals to the needed, while others visited ill people.
Defence Unlimited, a kongfu school owned by a South African of Chinese descent, hosted a self-defence workshop to mark the event in partnership with the Chinese Association in Gauteng Province.
The workshop raised money and then donated it to the Hong Ning Chinese Aged Home.
Paulette Leong, secretary of the association, said every year they donate to the Aged Home which takes care of 28 old people of Chinese descent.
"This year Defence Unlimited is hosting a self-defence workshop. Participants are asked to donate 100 rands (8.3 U.S. dollars) which will be given to the Aged Home," Leong told Xinhua.
She said that in previous years they had always encouraged their members to donate to the Aged Home.
Mandela Day, Leong said, is relevant in keeping Mandela's legacy alive.
Warren Ho, owner of Defence Unlimited, said every year he takes part in commemorating the Mandela Day to carry forward the spirit of Ubuntu (humanity).
Ho said, "Nelson Mandela is one of my personal heroes whom I look up to for guidance and inspiration. For me, he was a man of integrity, peace and understanding and is the embodiment of a true leader. I believe his ideals for humanity was truly inspirational, especially in his words, 'you must serve your fellow men'".
Ho stated that people should follow Mandela in making the world a better place. "It is only through caring and serving each other that we will be able to overcome all the adversity that we, as South Africans currently face," he said.
He quoted Mandela as saying, "It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it".
"This really inspired me to step forward and take action to address some of the issues our country and the Chinese community face, one of which is crime and the fear of crime," Ho said.
In previous years, Ho conducted free training sessions and donated clothes and food parcels on Mandela Day.
Ho said he hoped that every day would be made a Mandela Day.
"If anything, I think the spirit of Mandela Day is more relevant now than ever. In light of all the global turbulence and chaos, we need more positive ideals and action such as the ones that the Mandela Day encourages. It is the interest for everyone to do their bit, no matter how small it may be, in combating evil deeds around the world," Ho noted.
Mandela's life, he added, teaches courage; compassion; how to be a good leader; and 'never let fear defeat you'.
The chairperson of the Chinese Association of South Africa (CASA), Patrick Chong, told Xinhua that this year they are offering their free service to the Gugulethu Disabled Association like they had done in the past.
Chong said, "We are looking at longer term projects as part of our 67 minutes of charity work this year. We will continue with Gugulethu Disabled Association to assist them with their funding structures. They need funding for their projects and also for the workshops and for the marketing of their products. We want to assist them with their sustainability."
Chong said they would like to link the disabled association with some companies in China in the coming years for funding.
He said the Mandela Day is not a one day event but a continuous effort to assist the less fortunate.
Mandela spent 67 years fighting for social justice, humanity and democracy, Chong said, adding that Mandela's legacy is that of peace, justice, equality, unity, reconciliation and compassion.