Nelson Mandela celebrates 93rd birthday

Nelson Mandela with family members at his home in Qunu, South Africa, on Sunday. “Mandela is absolutely in good spirits,” President Jacob Zuma said after a visit Monday.

Associated Press

Nelson Mandela with family members at his home in Qunu, South Africa, on Sunday. “Mandela is absolutely in good spirits,” President Jacob Zuma said after a visit Monday.

For Mandela's 93rd, wishes pour in

Former President Nelson Mandela spent his 93rd birthday with friends and relatives in his rural hometown Monday, as South Africans paid tribute to the antiapartheid icon through song and community service projects.

Millions of South African schoolchildren began their day by singing a special version of Happy Birthday to Mandela, leading a worldwide chorus of birthday wishes. And President Barack Obama called Mandela "a beacon for the global community, and for all who work for democracy, justice and reconciliation."

South African President Jacob Zuma paid a visit to Mandela in his home village of Qunu, some 600 miles south of Johannesburg. Zuma spent more than two hours with the former president, before leaving with members of the Mandela family, including the icon's former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

"I came to spend time with the Mandela family, to rejoice with them, but also to eat cake. There was a huge cake," Zuma said with a smile.

"Mandela is absolutely in good spirits," he said.

People around the world were asked to mark his birthday by giving 67 minutes of their time to work in their local community — one minute for every year of Mandela's public service.

He became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in prison for his fight against racist apartheid rule, and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

Associated Press

Nelson Mandela celebrates 93rd birthday 07/18/11 [Last modified: Monday, July 18, 2011 9:41pm]

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