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Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela!

BIRTHDAY BOY: Nelson Mandela

NELSON MANDELA celebrates his 95th birthday today (July 18).

To mark the former South African President’s special day, people all over the world are being urged to perform at least 67 minutes of public service, to honour his 67 years of political activism.

Mandela, who is in critical but stable condition with a recurring lung infection, entered hospital on June 8.

President Jacob Zuma said his health was "steadily improving".

"We are proud to call this international icon our own as South Africans and wish him good health," said Mr Zuma in a statement.

"We thank all our people for supporting Madiba throughout the hospitalisation with undying love and compassion," he said, referring to Mr Mandela by his clan name.

Mr Mandela's birthday is also Nelson Mandela International Day, a day declared by the UN as a way to recognise the Nobel Prize winner's contribution to reconciliation.

British entrepreneur Richard Branson, speaking in a recorded message, has pledged 67 minutes of community service on Thursday to "make the world a better place, one small step at a time".

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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