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Happy Birthday Mandela!

NELSON MANDELA celebrates his 93rd birthday today (July 18).

To mark the former South African President’s special day, people being urged to perform at least 67 minutes of public service, the number of years Madiba, as he is a affectionately referred, spent in active politics.

"Together, the best way we can thank Nelson Mandela for his work is by taking action for others and inspiring change," U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said last week.

Mandela, who rarely makes public appearances - his last sighting at the closing ceremonies of the World Cup in South Africa last year - is spending the day with family and friends in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape province, where he grew up.

"He's just going to have a relaxing time with his family," Nelson Mandela Foundation spokesman Sello Hatang said.

Mandela, who was briefly hospitalised in January for an acute respiratory infection, continues to receive medical care at home.

Under South Africa's apartheid regime, Mandela spent 27 years in prison after being convicted of sabotage and attempts to overthrow the government. He was released in 1990 and went on to become the country’s first black president in 1994.

The United Nations declared July 18 as Mandela Day in 2009

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