July 18 - South African former president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela marks 95th birthday in hospital. Paul Chapman reports.
Well-wishers and media were gathering early as the 95th birthday of South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela dawned. He's been at this hospital in Pretoria for more than five weeks undergoing treatment for a lung infection. A statement from South Africa's current president, issued on the anti-apartheid hero's big day, says his condition is improving. On the eve of the event old friends Mac Maharaj and Epainette Mbeki, mother of Mandela's successor as president, offered their birthday greetings. (SOUNDBITE)(English) MAC MAHARAJ, PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN AND FRIEND OF NELSON MANDELA, SAYING: Nelson Mandela. I would like to take this opportunity to wish him everything of the best on his 95th birthday. Get well, get better. We need you, and stay forever young at heart." (SOUNDBITE)(English) EPAINETTE MBEKI, MOTHER OF FORMER PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI, SAYING: "I am wishing you a happy birthday and many more returns." July 18th was named Nelson Mandela International Day by the United Nations in 2009. It's commemorated in South Africa and abroad by people carrying out 67 minutes of charitable acts to mark the time Mandela actively fought to end apartheid. Mandela's expected to spend the day receiving visits from close family.