Special UN meet to honour Mandela on 95th birthday

United Nations, July 19: A special meeting of the UN General Assembly will mark the Nelson Mandela International Day on 18th July, honouring the ailing South African anti-apartheid leader's contributions to democracy, racial justice and reconciliation.

Speakers at the meeting to be held  on Mandela's 95th birthday are expected to include former US President Bill Clinton, Reverend Jesse Jackson, singer, actor and social activist Harry Belafonte, and Andrew Mlangeni, who was imprisoned with Mandela and remains a close friend.

The General Assembly meeting starting at 10 a.m. on 18th July is part of a series of events to take place in the UN and around the world. "This year's commemoration comes at a sensitive time for President Mandela and his family," said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message for the day.

"As we extend our best wishes to them, we can give greater meaning to our sentiments by taking action on behalf of others. This is the best tribute we can pay to an extraordinary man who continues to inspire the world through his example of courage, compassion and commitment to justice for all."

Every year on 18th July, individuals around the world are encouraged to devote 67 minutes to helping others by volunteering in a hospital, tutoring a child, providing food for the homeless, or any other community service.

The 67-minute campaign 'Take Action, Inspire Change' is based on people devoting one minute of their time for every year that Mandela devoted to public service, as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected President of South Africa.

On 17th and 18th July, a group of staff from the UN, the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the UN and the South African Consulate General will help rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in Long Beach and Far Rockaway last October. The effort is coordinated by two grassroots organisations
We Build New York and Respond & Rebuild.

UN offices around the world, including in Azerbaijan, Belgium, Gabon, Ghana, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia as well as a number of other locations, are organizing events in honour of Mandela.

Artist attempts painting record to mark Mandela's birthday

Meanwhile a South African artist has announced plans to paint the largest canvas of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela to secure a world record on the occasion of former President's 95th birthday on Thursday.

Artist John Adams said he will aim to make a record by making an almost five meter high painting of Mandela using acrylic and oil paints. "The idea is to depict the leader's life as one of world's most revered statesmen," Adams said in a statement.

The painting, to be made of twelve canvas panels put together to form the complete structure, will measure almost five metres in height and width when completed.

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