World celebrates as Nelson Mandela turns 95; Leader remains in hospital on Mandela Day
It’s a bittersweet day in South Africa today: Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon who many consider the country’s father, is celebrating his 95th birthday. But he is doing so from a hospital bed in Pretoria.
Pilgrims have assembled in front of the hospital by the dozens: church groups, families, even a motorcycle club, their engines revving at full throttle. Mothers encouraged their shy children to squeeze through the crowd and place a bouquet of flowers at the base of a makeshift shrine. A member of the crowd conducted an impromptu choir, inviting others to join in and sing a hymn together.
The hope the leader offers endures in sickness and in health, as South Africa still struggles through divide and economic problems.
“The legacy that Mandela brings is that despite what the past has dealt you, do not allow it to determine your future,” says pastor Sebastian Rossouw. “For many of us, myself included, that’s a message that we’ve taken to heart. Yes, we have a bad past but this will not affect the future we are looking towards.“
(Photos: Jason Blakely and Andy Carvin/NPR)
Happy birthday, Mr. Mandela.