President Cyril Ramaphosa has unveiled a life-sized statue of late president Nelson Mandela at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York, as South Africa celebrates Heritage Day on Monday.
"It gives me great pleasure to present to you and the United Nations, on behalf of the government and the people of South Africa, this life-size statue of President Nelson Mandela.
"For those of us gathered here at the United Nations, Nelson Mandela will forever hold a special place in our hearts because of his dedication to the service of humanity and the promotion of peace throughout the world," Ramaphosa said as he unveiled the statue ahead of the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit.
He said the enthusiasm with which the international community has embraced the celebration of the centenary of the birth of Mandela was truly humbling for government and South Africans.
"The people of our country, united in their diversity, revere Nelson Mandela as the founding father of our democratic nation – whose life, sacrifices and extraordinary contribution to freedom continues to inspire successive generations," he said.
The values by which Mandela lived and to which he dedicated his life were universal, according to Ramaphosa.
"We are honoured and grateful that the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit has been convened in his memory."
Ramaphosa said he recalled with great appreciation and gratitude the leading role of the UN in championing the struggle of the South African people against apartheid and in calling for the release of Mandela and other political prisoners.
"President Mandela firmly believed that the United Nations was the most valuable and effective instrument for the advancement of peace, development and equality that humanity had conceived.
"We trust that this statue will remain a constant reminder to the international community of the dedication of Nelson Mandela to the mission of the United Nations and a constant affirmation of South Africa’s commitment to contribute to a better world for all," Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa is currently in New York for the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly.