Johannesburg: South Africa will this year celebrate the birthday of the country`s first black president and Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela in great style with a birthday song sung by hundreds of people. The anti-apartheid hero turns 94 this year.
Mandela, also known as "Madiba", was born July 18, 1918. The song for his birthday will be officially launched on June 18, giving the nation a month to create the mood for celebrations.
On May 29, more than 400 people assembled at the Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg to record the song for Mandela, Xinhua reported.
"This is just wonderful, giving South Africans an opportunity to come together and they will never cease to amaze you," said Anitha Soni, trustee of the board of directors for Brand South Africa, an organisation responsible for promoting South Africa.
The celebrations are being sponsored by Brand South Africa, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Proudly South Africa, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education.
Schools and communities are being urged to prepare some colourful activities for the day.
"This one is very special as Madiba turns 94, and he became the first democratically elected president of South Africa in 1994," said Proudly South Africa CEO Lesley Sedibe.
The song brought together politicians, musicians, TV personalities, sportsmen and business leaders together with ordinary citizens in the country, both South Africans and of other nationalities.
"We are celebrating a man who, when he came out of prison, brought South African together through his own humility when naysayers thought that South Africa was on the brink of collapse," said former president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee Moss Mashishi.
Mandela was released on February 11, 1990 and led the African National Congress to talks that ended the apartheid regime.
When elected president in 1994, Mandela did not call revenge and retribution against whites. Instead, he led a reconciliation process that amazed many African and international politicians. He campaigned for peace, unity and love among South Africans of all races and tribes.
Because of his astonishing character, the UN General Assembly in 2009 proclaimed July 18 as the annual International Mandela Day.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said the aim of the day was "to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better and, in doing so, build a global movement for good".