Nelson Mandela Turns 94
The BBC reports that the public celebration began with 12 million school children across South Africa singing a special song for Mandela's birthday. South Africans were also asked to spend 67 minutes of their day helping out someone less fortunate, a proposal to honor the number of years that Mandela spent in public life, helping to improve the lives of others. The proposal was eagerly embraced and the nation came to a virtual stand-still.
Tributes have also come in from around the world. In an official statement from The White House, President Barack Obama and the First Lady congratulated the ex-South African leader: "Mandela’s extraordinary life and steadfast commitment to the principles of democracy and reconciliation continues to be a beacon for people of all backgrounds who strive for dignity, justice, and freedom."
Unfortunately, this day has also helped fuel critics of South Africa's current society, one in which racism is still prevalent, and the divide between rich and poor grows daily.
"If Mr. Mandela knew how poorly the country's schools were performing, he would be crying," said Nobel-laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu to the BBC.
The Province reports that Rev. Frank Chikane, former director general in the South African presidency, lampooned the country's leaders and accused them of falling short of Mandela's goals and principles, "compromising themselves with greed and corruption instead of serving the people."