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President Mandela Celebrates 95 years

President Mandela Celebrates 95 years
Last week, on July 18, 2013, the international community paused to celebrate 95 years of the life of Nelson Mandela. Fondly referred to as Madiba – Mandela’s clan name –Members of Congress from the House and Senate assembled in the U.S. Capitol to acknowledge the contributions of a true global hero and leader. In United States alone, events were held in 17 cities to honor the life, legacy and values of the apartheid freedom fighter.In June 2009, the United Nations’ General Assembly declared July 18th, as Nelson Mandela International Day. This year, the Nelson Mandela Foundation called on people everywhere to dedicate 67 minutes of volunteer time to honor Mandela.

Unlike in years past, this year’s celebratory events took on a different tone. Mandela is currently hospitalized and is recuperating from a series of ongoing health challenges. While he continues to gather strength, people everywhere took a moment to acknowledge and praise the international figure for his commitment to peace, justice and equality.

The Nobel laureate will be forever remembered for serving 27 years of unjust imprisonment only to be elected as South Africa’s first democratically elected President upon his release. And rather than engage in a civil war as retaliation for decades of oppression, Mandela called on all South Africans to come together in a bright and positive future signified by peace and reconciliation. Mandela’s call for unity reverberates today around the world and his legacy serves as a reminder to freedom fighters everywhere of the power of non-violent movements to achieve equality and more open, transparent and accountable government.

Before Members of Congress and the public, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) concluded inspired remarks of the South African leader by saying, “We celebrate the 95th birthday of the first President of a democratic South Africa—Nelson Mandela. But more than that, we celebrate the life, legacy and values of a true, life-long freedom fighter.”