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World celebrates Madiba Day

Some family members raised hopes that Mandela might return home sometime soon.

FILE: Nelson Mandela holds the World Cup beside Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Zurich on 15 May 2004. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - After an eruption of celebrations to mark Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday, the global icon looks set to spend a quiet weekend in hospital where he appears to be gathering strength.

Madiba's birthday on Thursday was commemorated across the globe, from reunions of his friends in the US to the South African flag cast in light over the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Family members told journalists Madiba is smiling from his hospital bed and acknowledging their presence. Some even raised hopes that he'd return home sometime soon.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on Friday visited the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria just a day after Madiba's birthday.

Tutu said Mandela continues to inspire South Africans to build a better country.

He called on people to pay tribute to the former president by doing something as simple as not littering.

The Archbishop also paid tribute to the women in the Madiba's life, thanking Graça Machel for being a pillar of strength throughout Madiba's illness.

He also thanked Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela for her role in the struggle.

Meanwhile, former US President Bill Clinton says Mandela's ability to overcome hatred for his detractors is what makes him such a great man.

Clinton was speaking at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York on Thursday during a special ceremony held in honour of Madiba's birthday.

"Mandela's heart was so big and his humanity so great that we often had trouble keeping our official roles apart from our personal friendship."

The presidency's message remains the same, Mandela is responding to treatment but is still in critical condition.

Madiba has now spent six weeks in hospital.