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Birthday song kicks off countdown to Mandela Day

South Africa Mandela _Higg.jpg

In this photo taken Friday June 1, 2012, members of the public and celebrities gather to videotape a sing-a-long birthday wish for former president Nelson Mandela, portrait on woman's shirt, on Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg. Mandela's office on Monday June 18 2012 has released the video of South Africans singing "Happy Birthday" in an effort to motivate people around the world to salute the anti-apartheid icon ahead of his 94th birthday next month. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

Nelson Mandela's office has released a video of South Africans singing "Happy Birthday" in an effort to motivate people around the world to salute the anti-apartheid icon ahead of his 94th birthday next month.

Mandela's grandson Luvuyo Mandela said Monday that he and his family will hand out blankets and plant trees on July 18, which was declared Mandela Day in 2009. People around the world are encouraged to devote some time to community service in his honor on the day.

A spokesman for the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory said the video aims to mobilize people around the world to sing to Mandela on his birthday.

The Nobel peace laureate spent 27 years in prison for fighting racist rule. He became South Africa's first black president in 1994 and served one five-year term.