Around 12 million school children all over South Africa today sang "Happy Birthday" to anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela as he celebrated his 93rd birthday, echoing the sentiment of people across the world. The students sang a special version of "Happy Birthday" before lessons began today.
Mandela spent his birthday with his family at his childhood village Qunu in the Eastern Cape province, Bua news reported.
In a birthday message, South African President Jacob Zuma, said Mandela had laid a solid foundation for the country and it was now up to South Africans to continue his legacy.
"We have achieved a lot, but we must still work further to eradicate poverty and improve especially the lives of children, because Madiba loves them so much. Most importantly, we must spread love, ubuntu (humanity to others), humility and selflessness around us," Zuma said.
US President Barack Obama and wife Michael also saluted anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela on his 93rd birthday, saying he set the standard for service delivery by civil servants worldwide, Bua News reported. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate led the struggle to bring down South Africa's system of white minority rule and discrimination against blacks and in 1994, he became the country's first black president.
The statement noted that Michelle Obama and the couple's daughters Sasha and Malia recently met Mandela during an official visit to South Africa and that the encounter "was the most moving part of their trip."
"Mandela's legacy exemplifies wisdom, strength and grace, and on the anniversary of his birth we salute the example of his life."
For the third year, at the request of his charitable foundation, July 18 is observed as Mandela Day, recognized by the United Nations as a global call to volunteer for good causes for 67 minutes -- representing each year of Mandela's life in active politics.