Former South African President and African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela. He celebrated his 93rd birthday on July 18, 2011., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Nelson Mandela celebrates 93rd birthday
July 19, 2011 11:46AM
SOUTH Africans and people around the world are celebrating Nelson Mandela's 93rd birthday with songs and voluntary work.
Mandela, who is frail, spent the day with his family in his home village of Qunu in South Africa's rural Eastern Cape.
Millions of South African school children simultaneously sang a special birthday song to Mandela.
The song, Happy Birthday Tata Madiba, was specially composed for Mandela's 93rd birthday and was sung at school assemblies across the country.
It was hoped the target of 12.4 million schoolchildren singing the song would set a new world record for the number of people singing to an individual at the same time. The song was sung at township schools and rural schools, public schools and private schools across the country.
For the third year the Mandela foundation has urged people to do 67 minutes of voluntary work today - to represent the 67 years that Mandela devoted to South Africa's political struggle against apartheid.
"The best way we can thank Nelson Mandela for his work is by taking action for others and inspiring change," said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who endorsed the call.
South African companies, charities and celebrities have all announced plans for voluntary work they will do today.
Mandela has appeared increasingly frail since he retired from public life in 2004. He has been receiving round-the-clock medical care at home following his release from hospital in January, where he was treated for an acute respiratory infection, says the BBC's Nomsa Maseko in Johannesburg.
Known to South Africans by his clan name Madiba, Mr Mandela has not appeared at a public engagement since the closing ceremony of the football World Cup in July 2010.
US President Barack Obama said Mandela's life and legacy exemplified "wisdom, strength and grace".
Mandela retired as South Africa's president in 1999 after serving one term, handing over to Thabo Mbeki.