Global leaders and ordinary people in South Africa and abroad committed to devoting 67 minutes of their time to community service to mark the number of years Mandela spent in politics.
Last year his birthday was recognised by the UN as Nelson Mandela International Day.
The frail leader spent the day with his family at his Johannesburg home and 100 children from villages around his childhood home in Eastern Cape .
The family pleaded for privacy but curious onlookers and neighbours milled around the residency, hoping to get a glimpse of the icon.
Local politicians united in wishing the anti-apartheid icon well on his birthday, with international leaders hailing his contribution to global politics and the fight for human rights.
President Jacob Zuma led the celebrations in Mvezo, Mandela’s birthplace. He was joined by Mandela’s grandson, Chief Mandla, and UDM leader Bantu Holomisa.
Addressing those gathered Zuma said: “Madiba’s 67 years of uninterrupted and selfless service to the people of South Africa and the world culminated in the birth of a new South Africa, united in diversity.
“We urge a continuation of this spirit of African unity, love and friendship.”
Zuma thanked all South Africans who dedicated 67 minutes to improve the lives of others in honour of Mandela’s 92nd birthday.
Mandela used to celebrate his birthday by throwing a feast for the village, with several cows being slaughtered.
“Today is an opportunity for millions of people around the world to look inside themselves and find those beautiful qualities as any human being has and say: ‘I am able to make a difference to my neighbour, to someone underprivileged, I can extend my goodness to other people,” Mandela’s wife Graça Machel said.
Mandela stepped down as president in 1999 after serving one term in office. He is still revered around the world for promoting peace and fighting against racism and HIV-Aids through his 46664 campaign.
On February 11 South Africa celebrated the 20th anniversary of Mandela’s release from prison.
The Bojanala district municipality, North West, spent Mandela Day patching up potholes on a road notorious for accidents in rural Moretele local municipality, which falls under Bojanala.
The road is the main link for the people of Makapanstad, near Hammanskraal, to Pretoria and other economic centres.
“Many cars have been damaged on this road while trying to avoid the potholes or actually hitting a pothole.
“The problem is that it is a main road for the people here. They rely on this road to link them to their jobs,” Bojanala mayor Ray Motsepe said.
“We are declaring war on potholes.”
In Cape Town DA leader Helen Zille said the ANC had long ago stopped symbolising Mandela’s example of selflessness, integrity, nonracialism and freedom for all under the law.
She said the ANC rally yesterday in Mvezo, Qunu, had actually been paid for by Parliament.
Zille also slammed the ANC for trying to link Zuma and Mandela in the public mind.
“The ANC is doing all it can to create the illusion that Jacob Zuma is the custodian of Madiba’s legacy. He is not,” Zille said.
Khayelitsha township was awash with volunteers who planted dozens of trees and painted schools.
At the Nomsa Mapongwana Primary School, Mandela Park, Iziko Museums teamed up with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology to plant a food garden for the school.
On the other side of the township Hollywood star Morgan Freeman was set to help a group of celebrity bikers erect a fence around a community health centre.
Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale and housing MEC Soviet Lekganyane handed over 67 houses to families in Mankweng.
“We must take example from the humiliation and sufferings that our icon, Mandela, went through in an effort to change our lives, both black and white, man and woman, for the better,” Mathale said to thunderous applause from delighted residents.
Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma led a campaign of distributing IDs to senior citizens at the Bulwer Hall in KwaZulu-Natal.
In their contribution to the day, the residents of the new RDP housing settlement in Alexandra opened a new park.
With the help of Johannesburg City Parks, the City of Johannesburg’s greening, recreation and cemetery agency, the community planted 670 trees, some of which were planted in the park.
Johannesburg City Parks started the commemorations by planting a 92nd tree – representing Mandela’ age – at Thokoza Park in Soweto. They then moved to Houghton, near Mandela’s home, before heading for Alexandra.
Note: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on 18 July 1918