Nelson Mandela Inspires a Nation as 95th Birthday Nears

"Mandela Day" is asking people to volunteer time to charity or service projects.

ByABC News
July 15, 2013, 7:30 AM

PRETORIA, South Africa, July 15, 2013— -- He gave up the adult years of his life and sacrificed his family for the cause of ending apartheid and bringing equal rights to his fellow South Africans. On Thursday Nelson Mandela will turn 95.

"Because of you I now have friends of a different race," Neo Malahla, 9, reads from a letter she wrote to Mandela. "I want to be the first female black president of South Africa."

To commemorate his birthday, a campaign known as "Mandela Day" is asking ordinary people to honor Mandela's legacy by volunteering 67 minutes of their time to charity or service projects. Sixty-seven is the number of years Mandela served his country through public service, politics and prison.

The Clintons are lending their voices to the cause, sending in their own video tributes.

"He is proof that even the most intractable problems are surmountable, that division can be overcome with dignity and that forgiveness can triumph over fear," said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a video message for Nelson Mandela Day.

On Sunday Mandela's official twitter handle @NelsonMandela tweeted, "History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children."

His foundation has been focused on improving the lives and education for South African kids.

Nelson Mandela's life will make it to the big screen in the coming months. South African Producer Anant Singh bought the film rights for Mandela's autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom," more than a decade ago. The movie is expected to be released late November 2013 or January 2014. British Actor Idris Elba will play Mandela.

Over the weekend former South African President Thabo Mbeki was quoted in the South African press as saying,"I am quite certain that Madiba will be discharged. I know the doctors who are working with him (Mandela) are very good people...they're doing an excellent job."

An aide to President Jacob Zuma tells ABC News the comments were more likely an expression of hope for his release from the hospital and not based on medical reports from his doctors.