The United Nations had last year agreed to commemorate Mandela’s birthday every year to recognise the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s contribution to resolving conflicts and promoting race relations, human rights and reconciliation.
Ninety-two children aged from six to 12 from southern South Africa were flown courtesy of the national carrier to visit the ailing icon at his Johannesburg home on the eve of his birthday. They sang him a birthday song.
In a statement, Mandela’s office quotes him as saying, “I like being with young children”.
Mandela was jailed for 27 years by the country’s white minority government for resisting apartheid rule.
On his release in 1990, he led negotiations with apartheid rulers, a process that culminated in his election as the country’s first black president in 1994.
He stepped down as president in 1999, after serving one term in office and is still revered around the world for promoting peace and fighting against racism and HIV/Aids.
South Africa celebrated the 20th anniversary of Mandela’s release from prison on February 11, a day credited with shaping the history of the country.
Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa, is expected to address thousands of villagers at Mandela’s birthplace Mvezo on Sunday.
“Mandela’s 67 years of uninterrupted and selfless service to the people of South Africa and the world culminated in the birth of a new South Africa, united in diversity,” Zuma said in a statement.
People around the globe have been urged to devote 67 minutes on Sunday to public service, to honour Mandela’s 67 years of service.