South Africa Rejoices For Nelson Mandela's 94th Birthday

South Africans, along with the Clintons and Obamas, celebrate Mandela's 94th birthday this week.


The nation of South Africa sang and served Wednesday in honor of Nelson Mandela's 94th birthday.

The country's first black president, who retired from public life in 2004, is still universally revered for his fight against apartheid after 27 years in prison. While Mandela himself celebrated humbly with a small family meal in his hometown of Qunu, the rest of the country celebrated.

Around 12 million schoolchildren sang a specially composed song for his birthday, and others did 67 minutes of charity work in honor of his 67 years of public service to the country.

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea traveled to Qunu Tuesday to dedicate a library and send birthday wishes. Current President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle also congratulated Mandela, affectionately known as "Madiba," in a statement issued Tuesday.

"On behalf of the people of the United States, we would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Nelson Mandela on the occasion of this 94th birthday," the statement reads. "On a personal note, our family has been inspired by Madiba's example, and has deeply appreciated the time we have spent with him, and his wisdom, grace and generosity of spirit."

Mandela's health has declined in recent years, but his wife Graca Machel told journalists that he had recovered from an abdominal issue he suffered from earlier this year, according to the Los Angeles Times. Last year, he was hospitalized for several days with a respiratory infection.

In 2009, the United Nations declared Mandela's birthday Nelson Mandela International Day for his Nobel Peace Prize-winning efforts to win basic rights for the country's black citizens and elevate political status of the African National Congress.

Seth Cline is a reporter with U.S. News and World Report. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter.