World celebrates with Madiba

Events have been planned across the world in honour of the global icon's birthday.

Staff at the US Embassy community gathers to sing Happy Birthday on Mandela Day. Picture:@USEmbPretoria

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Celebrations have been planned around the country and the world to celebrate the former President Nelson Mandela's birthday and World Mandela Day with people asked to give 67 minutes of their time to community service.

President Jacob Zuma has wished Mandela happy birthday and has encouraged the nation to use their 67 minutes to give back to the community.

"On behalf of government and all the people of South Africa, we wish Madiba a joyous 95th birthday. We are proud to call this international icon our own as South Africans and wish him good health. We also thank all for responding to the call to give Madiba the biggest birthday celebration ever this year."

Madiba remains in a stable but critical condition at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where he's being treated for a recurring lung infection for over a month.

The Presidency has confirmed that his condition is steadily improving.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said Mandela Day must inspire the nation to take action and do good for others.

"We declared 18 July as Mandela Day in honour of the birthday of our beloved former President Nelson Mandela. We declared this day to inspire all of us to take action. All our thoughts are focused on the rich legacy he's given us as South Africans and the world."

According to a snap survey nine out of 10 South Africans are looking to pledge 67 minutes for Madiba.


To honour Mandela President Jacob Zuma will be launching a housing project in Danville in Pretoria.

The ANC will be celebrating his birthday this afternoon at the hospital where the statesman is being treated.

Madiba's daugter Zindzi will receive the new smart ID card on behalf of her father.

The first smart ID cards are being handed out today as part of the celebrations.

Mandela will be among the first to receive one.

Home affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa says the launch of the Smart ID Cards on Madiba's birthday is symbolic of how far the country has come since the hated pass legislation during apartheid.

He says the aim of the new ID cards, which replace the green ID book, is to restore national identity and dignity.

"The launch of the smart ID card is a culmination of the struggle against the hated pass laws and marks a decisive departure from that period of history in South Africa."

The Democratic Alliance's (DA) parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko will be giving her 67 minutes of service to children at the Othandweni family centre in Soweto.

Meanwhile, Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela says the family will be spending this special day together as a family.


Mandela's grandson, Mandla Mandela has urged the nation to make a positive change in someone's life today.

"Instead of passing a person look into his or her eyes and see how you can change their life. Make a person smile."

Mandla, who has been at the centre of a family dispute over the exhumation and reburial of his relatives, is spending the day doing a number of community based projects in his home village of Mvezo.


Pupils at Edgemead High School along with their parents and teachers are celebrating the day by making 25,000 sandwiches for disadvantaged school children.

The food will be distributed to children from disadvantaged schools such as Du Noon, Ysterplaat and Durbanville.

The group has also wished Madiba well and sang Happy Birthday to the former statesman before the 8am school bell rang.

Some pupils said seeing the faces of less privileged fellow learners light up when they're getting their sandwiches is priceless.

Meanwhile, Western Cape Social Development MEC Albert Fritz on Thursday rolled up his sleeves to make sandwiches for school children on Mandela Day.

The MEC and other volunteers gathered on a farm in Malmesbury.

"High school learners are making sandwiches for the primary school learners and I just thought it was phenomenal. We're all here buttering bread and adding different kinds of jams and cheeses."

Capetonians can leave birthday and other well wishes for Madiba at a special wall of honour at St George's Cathedral in the Cape Town CBD.

Congress of South African Trade Union's (Cosatu) Tony Ehrenreich explained what the wall represents.

"The wall of honour represents a point for people to bring birthday cards and bring gifts that can be distributed to the communities."

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille together with her staff and the Stormers rugby team will be packing food hampers for the poor and needy.

A human chain linking dozens of locals and Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, along Klipfontein Road has been planned for later today.


Celebrations will be held in 18 cities across the United States.

President Barack Obama has urged people to honour Madiba "through individual and collective acts of service."

In Emancipation Hall in Washington, House Speaker John Boehner has invited people to honour Madiba's legacy, life and values.

In Boston, a service will take place at a church close to where April's Boston marathon bombings took place which will be attended by the mayor and governor.

In New York, the first us city Madiba visited shortly after his release from prison, various events are taking place from the UN to Times Square.

Former US President Bill Clinton, Reverend Jesse Jackson, singer Harry Belafonte and Andrew Mahlangeni who was imprisoned with Madiba, are all expected to speak at an event being held in Mandela's honour.

United Nations (UN) staff will also help with rehabilitation efforts following last year's super storm Sandy.

New York's Times Square will screen a video installation with famous Madiba quotes.