“Mandela’s extraordinary life and steadfast commitment to the principles of democracy and reconciliation continues to be a beacon for people of all backgrounds who strive for dignity, justice, and freedom,” Obama said in a statement.
He described Mandela’s personal story as one of “unbreakable will, unwavering integrity, and abiding humility”.
“On a personal note, our family has been inspired by Madiba’s example, and has deeply appreciated the time we have spent with him, and his wisdom, grace and generosity of spirit. By any measure, Nelson Mandela has changed the arc of history, transforming his country, continent, and the world,” said Obama.
In 2009, the United States joined 192 United Nations member states in the creation of Nelson Mandela International Day. On this day, people honour Madiba’s commitment to service and the betterment of communities.
“There is no more fitting tribute to a man who has demonstrated to the world the extraordinary power of non-violence, of tolerance, and of unwavering service to our fellow men and women,” added Obama.
Meanwhile, Mandela’s home village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape is a hive of activity today with festivities lined up to celebrate the statesman’s birthday.
Mandela’s longtime friend and former US President Bill Clinton was in Qunu on Tuesday to join the Mandela’s in celebration.
People around the world have honoured the icon’s call to spend 67 minutes of their time on his birthday to better their communities and help the poor.