WASHINGTON - Millions of South Africans are celebrating the 93rd birthday of their former president Nelson Mandela today.
Mandela Day, was inaugurated in 2009, and declared an international day by the United Nations that November. Mandela Day was inspired by a call made by Mandela himself for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world's social injustices.
As a result people around the world have been asked to mark the occasion by devoting 67 minutes of their time to work in their local community or one minute for every year of Mandela's public service.
The President and Mrs. Obama issued the following statement in observance of Nelson Mandela International Day:
As the people of the world celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 93rd birthday on July 18, Madiba continues to be a beacon for the global community, and for all who work for democracy, justice and reconciliation. On behalf of the people of the United States, we congratulate Nelson Mandela, and honor his vision for a better world.
Nelson Mandela said, ‘There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.’ A man who devoted 67 years of his life to public service, Madiba sets the standard for service worldwide, whether we are students, shopkeepers or farmers, cabinet ministers or presidents. He calls on us to serve our fellow human beings, and better our communities.
Michelle, and my daughters, Sasha and Malia, recently met Madiba during an official visit to South Africa that focused on service, youth leadership, education and healthy living. Their time with Madiba 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.
In 2009, the United States was honored to join 192 other United Nations member states in the creation of Nelson Mandela International Day. As the global community honors Madiba on July 18 through individual and collective acts of service, we honor the man who showed his own people, and the world, the path to justice, reconciliation and democracy.