Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela tuned 95 today. Although South Africa’s first democratically elected president has been in the hospital suffering from a recurring lung infection for over a month, many have said the famed anti-apartheid leader is steadily improving.
Mr. Mandela’s daughter, Zindzi, told reporters her father was making “remarkable progress” and she observed him watching TV and “communicating with his eyes and hands.”
Mr. Mandela became an international symbol of freedom after being imprisoned for 27 years for his anti-apartheid activism. After his release, Mr. Mandela—affectionately known as Madiba—was elected to South Africa’s highest office and served as president from 1994 to 1999.
In addition to being Mr. Mandela’s birthday, July 18th is also recognized by the United Nations as Nelson Mandela International Day. Many around the world spend the day serving their communities and remembering Madiba’s contributions to freedom.
Here in the U.S., The Power of Words, a documentary featuring images and quotes of Mr. Mandela will air on multiple screens throughout Times Square.
Later this year, A Long Walk to Freedom will hit theaters and once again educate the masses about Mr. Mandela’s inspiring story. The biopic stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, as well as South African stars Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Zolani Mkiva, Jamie Bartlett, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Deon Lotz and Terry Pheto.
President Obama, who recently visited South Africa, released a statement honoring Mr. Mandela, stating:
On behalf of our family and the people of the United States, Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes and prayers to Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his 95th birthday, as well as to Graça Machel, the Mandela family, and the government and people of South Africa as they mark the fifth annual Nelson Mandela International Day. Our family was deeply moved by our visit to Madiba’s former cell on Robben Island during our recent trip to South Africa, and we will forever draw strength and inspiration from his extraordinary example of moral courage, kindness, and humility.
On Nelson Mandela International Day, people everywhere have the opportunity to honor Madiba through individual and collective acts of service. Through our own lives, by heeding his example, we can honor the man who showed his own people – and the world – the path to justice, equality, and freedom. May Nelson Mandela’s life of service to others and his unwavering commitment to equality, reconciliation, and human dignity continue to be a beacon for each future generation seeking a more just and prosperous world.
We echo his sentiments. Happy Birthday Madiba!