News / Africa

As Health Improves, Mandela Turns 95

  • Nelson Mandela's grandson Zondwa Mandela gives out food parcels as they celebrate Mandela Day with 67 minutes of public service to honour the 67 years Mandela served humanity by first fighting against white-minority rule and then consolidating racial harmony when he was president, at the SOS children's home in Mamelodi township outside Pretoria July 18, 2013.
  • Nelson Mandela's granddaughter Ndileka (R) serves soup as she celebrates Mandela Day with 67 minutes of public service to honour the 67 years Mandela served humanity by first fighting against white-minority rule and then consolidating racial harmony when he was president, at the SOS children's home in Mamelodi township outside Pretoria July 18, 2013.
  • Children hold placards as they gather to wish Nelson Mandela happy birthday at a township school in Atteridgeville, near Pretoria, July 18, 2013.
  • A portrait of Mandela is displayed on the windows of a building on his 95th birthday, Cape Town, South Africa, July 18, 2013.
  • A group of kindergarten children sing Happy Birthday outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where the former South African President is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa July 18, 2013.
  • A child sings as he and others celebrate Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday in Cape Town, July 18, 2013.
  • A banner of photos of Nelson Mandela set up outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in South Africa, July 18, 2013.
  • School children sing happy birthday to Mandela in front of his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, July 18, 2013.
  • A man prays as well-wishers gather to wish Mandela happy birthday outside Mediclinic Heart Hospital, July 18, 2013.
  • Members of the ruling party youth league sing outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where Nelson Mandela is being treated, July 17, 2013.
  • A man places a candle inside the St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, July 17, 2013.
  • A visitor takes a photo of a poster at the opening of an international exhibition of 95 posters celebrating the 95 years of the life of Nelson Mandela, at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, July 17, 2013.

Anti-Apartheid Icon Mandela Turns 95

VOA News
South Africa says former president Nelson Mandela's health is "steadily improving" as he turns 95 years old Thursday.

President Jacob Zuma wished  Mandela happy birthday in a statement, saying South Africa is proud to call the international icon its own.

Mandela's daughter, Zindzi Mandela, confirmed Thursday that her father's health is getting better.

"There were a couple of times where I like, was very insecure and uncertain and very afraid, you know, of what might happen," she said.  "But over the past three weeks or so I have just seen a huge turnaround."

Zindzi Mandela said she is "confident" her father will return home sometime soon.

The anti-apartheid icon has spent more than a month in a Pretoria hospital after being rushed there for a recurring lung infection.  

South Africans are holding big celebrations to mark his birthday, which has been designated an international day of service.

Known as "Mandela Day," people are asked to give 67 minutes of their time doing something charitable, or one minute for each year he dedicated to his struggle for social justice.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who visited South Africa last month, said in a statement late Wednesday that people everywhere can honor Mandela by "heeding his example" through acts of service.

Mandela is revered in South Africa and beyond for his role in ending official racial discrimination and white minority rule.  After spending 27 years in prison, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was elected South Africa's first black president the following year.

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