World celebrates Mandela Day

Published: July 18, 2010
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Photo taken on February 11, 1990 of Nelson Mandela and his then-wife Winnie raise their fists in Paarl to salute cheering crowd. PHOTO: AFP

Photo taken on February 11, 1990 of Nelson Mandela and his then-wife Winnie raise their fists in Paarl to salute cheering crowd. PHOTO: AFP

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, turned 92 years old on Sunday, as the world celebrates the first international day in his honour.

Global leaders and ordinary people in South Africa and abroad committed to devoting 67 minutes of their time to community service, to mark the number of years Mandela spent in politics.

His birthday in 2009 was recognised by the United Nations as “Nelson Mandela International Day”.

Local politicians united in wishing the anti-apartheid icon well on his birthday, with international leaders hailing his contribution to global politics and the fight for human rights.

“President Mandela has given 67 years of his life, now what we all could do is try to use 67 minutes of our lives, and change the world for the better,” said Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Finland.

Ahtisaari is a member of The Elders, an independent group of eminent global leaders formed by Mandela in 2008.

Mandela was jailed for 27 years by the country’s white minority government for resisting apartheid rule.

On his release in 1990, he led negotiations with apartheid rulers, a process that culminated in his election as the country’s first black president in 1994.

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