Mandla proud of Mandela's 'fighting spirit'

Mandla and Nelson Mandela in 2001. (Gallo)

Mandla and Nelson Mandela in 2001. (Gallo)

The spirit of giving will make former president Nelson Mandela smile, despite him being critically ill in hospital, his grandson Mandla Mandela said on Wednesday.

"It is [the] spirit of giving and sharing that will change our world," he said in a statement. "It is this changed world that will make Madiba smile, always."

He was referring to the acts of kindness expected to take place across South Africa on Thursday, the elder statesman's 95th birthday.

Every year on Mandela's birthday, many South Africans spend 67 minutes of their time doing charitable work – one minute for every year of Mandela's public service to the country.

In November 2009, the United Nations officially declared July 18 Nelson Mandela International Day to recognise his "values and his dedication to the service of humanity".

The anti-apartheid icon was admitted to the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria on June 8 with a recurring lung infection. The presidency said he remained in a critical but stable condition.

Compared to previous years, Mandela's birthday this year would be more important because of his ill-health, said Mandla Mandela.

'His fighting spirit'
"This [is] the most important birthday for the broader Mandela family and indeed the whole world. This year we celebrate my grandfather's 95th birthday, cognisant that the entire world is focusing on him and his well-being."

He expressed admiration for his grandfather's strength.

"The fact that my grandfather is with us to this day, when doomsday people predicted his demise, makes me proud of his fighting spirit which he has demonstrated over the many years of his life," he said.

"Most importantly, his birthday reminds us of his wish that all of us should give of our time and our efforts in making the lives of the less privileged better."

He thanked people across the world for planning activities in Mandela's honour on Thursday, and urged South Africans to help address the country's "many challenges". – Sapa

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