CAPETOWN –Some 12 million schoolchildren across South Africa have sung a specially composed song as part of official celebrations for Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday today.
The former South African president spent the day quietly with his family in his village home of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, near where he was born.
Mandela met former US President Bill Clinton yesterday.
He spent 27 years in jail for leading an armed anti-apartheid campaign.
Clinton, accompanied by his daughter Chelsea, opened a new library for the No-Moscow Primary School in Qunu, ahead of his meeting with Mandela.
He told the children that Madiba – as Mandela is affectionately called in South Africa – believed in the future and not the past.
“When I think about Mandela I always think about someone committed to the future,” Clinton said.
US President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, have also paid tribute ahead of Mandela’s birthday.
The US first couple hailed Mandela’s “extraordinary life and steadfast commitment to the principles of democracy and reconciliation”.
The BBC’s Milton Nkosi in Qunu said that across South Africa, Mandela’s birthday was traditionally celebrated with the poor communities receiving help from those who are more fortunate. (BBC)
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