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Nelson Mandela International Day

Today is Nelson Mandela International Day, marking Nelson Mandela's 94th birthday. Mandela's birthday has become known as "Mandela Day" - an initiative of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and its sister organisations, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

"The overarching objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good," states the official Mandela Day website.

The UN is joining a call by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to devote 67 minutes of time to helping others, as a way to mark Nelson Mandela International Day. Over the next five days, housing charity Habitat for Humanity is working with volunteers to build 67 houses across South Africa, in honour of Mandela's 67 years of political service.

For 67 years Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humanity — as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa. In South Africa, Mandela is fondly known by the Xhosa clan name Madiba.

The Nelson Mandela International Day was established in November 2009, in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. This day recognises Nelson Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity, in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the upliftment of poor and underdeveloped communities. It acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.

President Jacob Zuma has encouraged people to continue to build the country of Madiba’s dreams, working together as South Africans. “We must continue the long walk to freedom he led so capably, and confront poverty, unemployment and inequality, in order to create a better life for all,” he said.

Film producer Anant Singh, who is producing the only official film based on Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk To Freedom”, has also announced the endowment of key sets created for the film to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.

Mandela was the honorary patron of “Sports for Peace”, which took place on the occasion of the World Cup 2010, an initiative supported by the Cinema for Peace Foundation.

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