Johannesburg: South Africa is gearing up to celebrate the 95th birthday of its anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela on Thursday, even as the revered statesman remains critically ill in a hospital.

South Africans are preparing to donate goods and volunteer their services for 67-minutes, all for a good cause as part of the Mandela Day initiative, which honours the legacy of the country's first black President and marks his birthday.

The initiative recognizes the 67 years Mandela spent working for South Africa. Many South Africans have said they were excited about the opportunity to plough back to their communities.

"We are sponsoring food and drinks and all sorts of things. I mean Mandela is a very important person and in my opinion it should be a worldwide thing not just a South African thing everybody can give a little bit of their time," a South African said.

On Monday, South African President Jacob Zuma put out a statement reminding all South Africans to begin planning for Madiba's birthday. "We must all be able to do something good for humanity on this day, in tribute to our former President," he said.

Mandela, regarded the founding father of South Africa's multi-racial democracy, was admitted to a Pretoria hospital on June 8 for a recurring lung infection.
Mandela served as the country's first black president from 1994 to 1999.


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