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'Mandela determined to go home'

Zindzi Mandela says her father wants to be discharged from hospital.

Former President Nelson Mandela celebrated his 95th birthday on 18 July. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Former President Nelson Mandela's daughter Zindzi said her father is determined to be discharged from hospital and return home.

"I'd like to reassure the public that their love and the prayers do reach him and I do believe that's what sustains him. For some reason he's determined to leave hospital and go home."

The Presidency confirmed on Thursday that Madiba's health is improving.

The positive news came as the entire world celebrated the global icon's 95th birthday and World Mandela Day with people asked to give 67 minutes of their time to community service.

Madiba has been treated at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria for a recurring lung infection for the past five weeks.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said, "Madiba remains in hospital but doctors have confirmed that his health is steadily improving."

MADIBA IMPROVEMENT

The statesman's family appear optimistic that he will return home soon.

The former President's granddaughter Ndileka said on Thursday that her grandfather's fighting spirit knows no bounds.

Between handing out food parcels and digging up soil to plant trees, Ndileka took a minute to reflect on the last few weeks.

She said his character as a fighter enabled him to celebrate his birthday with South Africa and the world.

"It's been a long painful journey but we've made it.Through everybody's prayers and the doctors that take care of him."

She said she's grateful the family will be able to spend at least this birthday with him.

"Because of the fighter that he is he was able to fight a repressive system and he was able through god and everybody's prayers to make it today."

Ndileka said it's too early to say when Madiba will be released from hospital.

Meanwhile, Zindzi said on Thursday that her father is making "remarkable progress".

She was speaking during an exclusive interview with Britain's Sky News, and said her father is communicating with his eyes and his hand.

She said he was watching television with headphones on when she visited him earlier this week.

Zindzi said her father smiled and raised his hand when he saw her.

"You can see he is there in his eyes, the same energy and strength."

She also said she hopes he will be discharged "soon".

KEEPING HIS LEGACY ALIVE

The CEO of the Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory Sello Hatang spoke to Talk @ 9 about the development of the initiative of Mandela Day.

Hatang said since Mandela Day has gone global, it has grown in proportion.

"It's never too late to make a difference in somebody's life. It's not only about Madiba but about his legacy and we should try to grow his legacy because he's given us a beautiful gift."

Hatang added he's happy that Madiba is making progress in hospital.

Former Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said South Africans need to continue Nelson Mandela's legacy.

Sexwale visited the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Houghton on Thursday as part of the Nelson Mandela Day celebrations.

He said the nation needs to take his vision forward.

Meanwhile, Advocate George Bizos, one of Madiba's oldest friends said he was pleased to hear his daughter Zindzi say he will probably be coming home in the near future.

"He has always been very optimistic about life."

Former Robben Island inmates on Thursday also called on South Africans to preserve the ideals of non-racialism that Mandela was jailed for.

Ahmed Kathrada and Laloo Isu Chiba arrived at the hospital to wish Madiba a happy birthday.

Kathrada encouraged citizens to show more tolerance.

"We have to live in the same country, with the same people, with a message of forgiveness and looking forward to reconciliation."

Chiba said he was glad to hear that the global icon was "on the mend".

"We wish him everything of the best".

While hundreds of people gathered outside the hospital, security guards handed out cake at the main gate.

HUMAN CHAIN

Anglican archbishop Thabo Makgoba joined dozens of Capetonains including Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, who formed a human chain in Athlone yesterday as part of the Mandela Day celebrations.

Archbishop Makgoba said Madiba embodies values of selflessness and added that his life epitomises the best of humanity.

Manuel thanked Madiba, saying he's inspired South Africans to be the best they can be.