UN, Cuba to mark first Nelson Mandela Day on July 18

The UN is gearing up to commemorate the first Nelson Mandela International Day on July 18, with various activities planned at its headquarter and throughout the world, a spokesperson of the world body has said.

"This week UN will commemorate the first Nelson Mandela International Day, designated as the 18th of July. These include a movie screening of "Mandela: Son of Africa/Father of the Nation," an informal session of the General Assembly in honour of Mandela and the opening of photo exhibit "Nelson Mandela: Man of the People", UN spokesperson, Ms Farhan Haq, said.

In November 2009, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to commemorate July 18, the birthday of anti-apartheid icon as Nelson Mandela Day, to recognise the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's contribution in conflict resolution, promoting peace and supporting human rights.

In a surprising move yesterday, the Cuban parliament decided at an extraordinary session to commemorate July 18 as the International Day of Nelson Mandela, according to the Cuban News Agency.

The document passed by the Cuban parliament highlights Mandela's "indomitable spirit and resistance, which could not be yielded in 27 years he spent in prison, and points out his exemplary life at the service of mankind".

It also highlights the African leader's sympathy with the island and his close friendship with Fidel Castro, the Agency said.

Mandela fought against apartheid in South Africa for decades and spent 27 years in prison but later emerged to become the country's first black president who held office from 1994-1999.

Meanwhile, American actor Morgan Freeman who played Mandela in the movie 'Invictus', joined other South African stars who planned to spread the word of Mandela Day as they embarked on a six-day road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town, according to the local media.

"I have always felt close to Madiba having played him in a movie, and also having known him for a number years," Freeman was quoted as saying by South African newspaper 'Sowetan'.

"It is a point of honour in one sense to be asked to take part in anything related to Nelson Mandela and I am very happy to be included in this road trip", Freeman said.

While the world celebrates Mandela's 92nd birthday, the leader has already declared the he will spend his day with his family.

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