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Feature: Mandela's 95th birthday commemorated in South Africa

By Ndumiso Mlilo (Xinhua)

09:40, July 15, 2013

JOHANNESBURG, July 14 (Xinhua) -- The Nelson Mandela Center of Memory kicked off the Mandela's 95th birthday celebrating activities with a visit to the Bertrams Junior School here on Sunday.

The Mandela's birthday will be marked all over the world on July 18 every year, and people across the globe will use 67 minutes to offer their services to create a better world as part of the Mandela Day celebrations.

The focus of the Mandela Day this year is poverty alleviation and shelter.

Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory, encouraged people to keep the Mandela's spirit of helping other people alive.

"One gift one can give to Madiba (Mandela's nickname) is to educate children and improve the quality of education, seeing children getting the education they need," Hatang said.

The center said while it is good that people donate 67 minutes to the community, they should make every day a Mandela day by continuously striving to assist others.

Mandela's grandson Zondwa Mandela made a passion plea for people of the world to work towards improving their community, saying, "My grandfather is critical but improving. The driving force for the success of South Africa is educating the children."

"We have to learn and keep his legacy of kindness and good deed alive," he added.

He said they will celebrate Mandela's birthday as a family and have a meal as a family, hoping that his grandfather could join them as a family.

He said Mandela is still responding to touch and voice with his eyes, adding that his birthday this year will be like in other previous years to be proved to be a unifying factor of South Africans and people of the world.

Mandela's granddaughter Zoleka also invited people to use the 67 minutes to make a change in other people's lives.

South Africa's Deputy Minister of Basic Education Enver Surty called on people to walk in Mandela's footsteps and share his spirit. "We are gathering here for the extra ordinary man, Nelson Mandela, a man who has taught us love, about humility, compassion and that education is the most powerful tool to change the world," Surty said.

Zondwa and Zoleka cut the birthday cake for Mandela, while school children sang "Happy Birthday to Mandela."

As Zondwa cut the cake, he said, "I wish my grandfather could be around, but I will cut it on his behalf."

The Bertrams Junior School is also turning 95 years like Mandela.

"We are celebrating Madiba's legacy, a man of peace and love, has changed the people worldwide," said the headmistress of the Bertrams Junior School, Khanyi Thwala.

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