Nelson Mandela is spending his 95th birthday in hospital as he recovers from a recurring lung infection.
The former president of South Africa is said to remain in a critical condition but has made “remarkable progress” since his admittance to the Pretoria hospital on 8 June.
“I visited him yesterday and he was watching television with headphones,” said his daughter Zindzi Mandela in an interview with Sky TV. “He gave us a huge smile and raised his hand… he responds with his eyes and his hands.”
PHOTO FOR GALLERY
Zindzi said she imagined her father would be well enough to go home soon, but for the time being Nelson has had to spend his milestone birthday in hospital.
Supporters in his native South Africa and around the world have sent birthday wishes to the political legend, with fans sharing in the celebration on Twitter with the hashtag Madiba, his clan name.
“My thoughts go to @NelsonMandela on this special day. Thank u for being a source of inspiration and courage. Happy Bday #Madiba! Much love!” tweeted Forest Whitaker.
“Tomorrow is Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday! Join us and do something great to celebrate #MandelaDay,” posted Naomi Campbell, sharing a video of herself speaking about the elder statesman’s legacy.
School children across the country will sing a synchronised “Happy Birthday” to the former president, and Mandela family members will hold a birthday lunch for him with 95 cupcakes to mark his noteworthy age.
The South African public have been urged to join in and commemorate the anti-apartheid leader’s 67 years of public service by carrying out 67 minutes of charitable acts, such as distributing food to the poor and renovating orphanages.
President Jacob Zuma will also pay his predecessor a visit in hospital. He released a statement wishing “Tata Madiba” a joyous birthday, and thanked South Africans for their support.Tata means father in Xhosa.
“We are proud to call this international icon our own as South Africans and wish him good health,” said the president. “We thank all our people for supporting Madiba throughout the hospitalisation with undying love and compassion.
“We also thank all for responding to the call to give Madiba the biggest birthday celebration ever this year.”
The former president’s birthday is also Nelson Mandela International Day, which is held in recognition of his contribution to anti-apartheid peace.