Thursday, July 18, 2013

Nelson Mandela spends 95th birthday in hospital

Children waved South African flags at the Milton Mbekela school in the village of Qunu, Mr Mandela's boyhood home.
Nelson Mandela is spending his 95th birthday in hospital in Pretoria, as events take place around the world and in South Africa in his honour.

The former president and anti-apartheid leader has been critically ill with a recurring lung infection since 8 June.

South African President Jacob Zuma, who visited Mr Mandela in hospital, said he was "encouraged" by his progress.

South Africans have been urged to mark Mr Mandela's 67 years of public service with 67 minutes of charitable acts.

"When I visited him today... I was able to say 'happy birthday' and he was able to smile," Mr Zuma said in a statement.

"Mandela's struggle for freedom and justice in our country and his values of promoting a fair, just and equitable world continues to inspire and motivate us," he told a visiting EU delegation.

Well-wishers cut up birthday cake outside Mr Mandela's hospital in Pretoria (18 July)There was even birthday cake for those gathered outside the hospital.
Activities throughout the day included:

  • School-children across the country singing a synchronised Happy Birthday to the former president
  • Mandela family members handing out gifts to Mamelodi township residents before holding a birthday lunch with Nelson Mandela. They have prepared 95 cupcakes in his honour
  • President Zuma visiting Mr Mandela in hospital and overseeing the donation of houses to poor white families in the Pretoria area
  • Volunteers spending 67 minutes each renovating schools and orphanages, cleaning hospitals and distributing food to the poor to mark the former statesman's 67 years as a lawyer, activist, prisoner and president
  • Mr Mandela becoming the first recipient of South Africa's new Smart ID Card, introduced on Thursday. His card will be collected on his behalf by his daughter Zindzi
  • The forming of a human chain from Johannesburg's Fashion District into the heart of the city

Mandela's key dates
1918 - Born in the Eastern Cape
1944 - Joined African National Congress
1956 - Charged with high treason, but charges dropped
1962 - Arrested, convicted of sabotage, sentenced to five years in prison
1964 - Charged again, sentenced to life
1990 - Freed from prison
1993 - Wins Nobel Peace Prize
1994 - Elected first black president
1999 - Steps down as leader
2001 - Diagnosed with prostate cancer
2004 - Retires from public life
2005 - Announces his son has died of an HIV/Aids-related illness
2007 - Forms The Elders group
2010 - Appears at closing ceremony of World Cup

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