South Africa Celebrates Nelson Mandela's 95th Birthday; Former President's Health Is 'Steadily Improving'

Nelson Mandela
People around the world gather to celebrate former South African President Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday on Thursday. NelsonMandela.org

Former South African President Nelson Mandela turned 95 on Thursday, and while he is celebrating his birthday in the hospital due to a reoccurring lung infection, family members reported his "remarkable progress" and that they look forward to "having him back home soon."

According to current South African President Jacob Zuma, the anti-apartheid leader remains in Pretoria hospital but "continues to respond positively to treatment," and everyone is "encouraged by the progress he is making." Zuma also thanked citizens of South Africa for responding to a call to give Mandela "the biggest birthday celebration ever this year," the Associated Press reported.

"On behalf of government and all the people of South Africa, we wish Madiba a joyous 95th birthday. We are proud to call this international icon our own as South Africans and wish him good health," Zuma said in a statement.

"We thank all our people for supporting Madiba throughout the hospitalisation with undying love and compassion."

Mandela supporters around the world have been asked to show their own support by participating in "Mandela Day." To commemorate the Nobel Peace Prize winner's legacy, this campaign boasts one message: "Mr. Mandela gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity. All we are asking is that everyone gives 67 minutes of their time, whether it's supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community."

Nelson Mandela's Health Timeline

1990 - Mandela is released from Robben Island prison, where he contracted tuberculosis during his stay.

2001 - Diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer.

January 2011 - Spends two nights in Johannesburg hospital, where he is diagnosed with a chest infection.

February 2012 - Spends one night in hospital with abdominal complications.

December 8, 2013 - Undergoes gallstone surgery to repair lung infection.

December 26, 2013 - Released from hospital after successful operation.

March 27, 2013 - Admitted to hospital after signs of lung infection point to pneumonia.

April 29, 2013 - Made first television appearance since hospitalization, looking malnourished.

June 8, 2013 - Readmitted to hospital under "serious but stable" condition.

June 16, 2013 - Health sees sustained improvement.

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