Nelson Mandela's foundation is moving forward with plans to celebrate the global icon's 95th birthday, which coincides with Nelson Mandela International Day on July 18. Despite Mandela's ongoing hospital stay, charities, companies and individuals around the world have vowed to take part in the annual day of service.
The foundation's CEO Sello Hatang made the recent announcement at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg. "We see this as an opportunity for people to rise above Madiba's hospitalization," Hatang said, referring to Mandela by his clan name.
Mandela Day participants are encouraged to spend 67 minutes volunteering and serving their communities to honor the former president's 67 years of activism and public work, almost half of which were spent in jail for his opposition to South Africa's apartheid regime. The United Nations declared Mandela Day in 2009, marking Mandela's birthday a global call to action.
"People are focusing more on his passing away rather than his recovery," U.N. country representative Agostinho Zacarias told AFP. "We at the U.N. would like to focus on his recovery and a quick recovery, and wish him well."
The 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero has been hospitalized since June 8 for a recurring lung infection. On June 16, South African President Jacob Zuma told the public: "Although he remains serious, his doctors have stated that his improvement has been sustained."
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(Photo: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)