Millions salute Mandela on his 93rd birthday

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) - All of South Africa on Monday marked the 93rd birthday of international icon Nelson Mandela, while messages of support flooded in from around the world.

Madiba, as he is affectionately known, is spending the day with his family at his birthplace of Qunu in the Eastern Cape and he will not be making any public appearances.

He was last seen in public just before his last birthday, when he and his wife Graca Machel made an appearance at the Soccer World Cup final in Johannesburg.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said the world statesman is “happy and content” to be spending the day with his family.

Radio stations around the country are broadcasting tributes to Mandela and airing a special birthday song which was composed for him.

In addition, an estimated 12 million school children around the country sang the special song at 8.05am.

A birthday greeting recorded by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the occasion reads: “I hope that we have many more years to celebrate with you and to spend time thinking about everything that you have given to us. There is no gift we can give to you that in any way matches the blessings you have given first and foremost to your country, but also to the rest of the world."

US President Barack Obama described Mandela as "a beacon for the global community, and for all who work for democracy, justice and reconciliation."

In a statement issued Sunday, Obama congratulated Mandela for devoting his life to public service and a legacy that exemplifies "wisdom, strength and grace."

Mandela is the only person whose birthday is endorsed by the United Nations and globally celebrated as an expression of good to others.

The National Heritage Council of South Africa said Mandela stands for the values of unity that the council encourages the nation to uphold.

"We consider Nelson Mandela as South Africa's living heritage that will remain in the memory of the people of this world," said Sonwabile Mancotywa, the Chief executive Officer of the council.  

As South Africa's first black president, Mandela is revered for having resolved the political crisis in the country and for his personal sacrifices in fighting the apartheid regime.
-0- PANA CU/SEG 18July2011

18 july 2011 08:54:37

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