17/07/2012 15:30 BST | Updated 18/07/2012 17:26 BST

Nelson Mandela Birthday: Former South African President Celebrates 94th Year (PICTURES)

Celebrations are taking place across the world to mark Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday.

A Nobel peace laureate, Mandela spent 27 years in prison fighting racist rule. He became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, serving a five-year term.

To commemorate his remarkable life on his big day, we’ve collated 94 images of him throughout the ages, including his prison mug shot, meetings with heads of state, past and present including Muammar Gaddafi, Bill Clinton and Margaret Thatcher.

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Birthday boy: Nelson Mandela turns 94 on 18 July

We’ve also unearthed pictures of the great man with the Spice Girls, Michael Jackson and His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

The special day has also become known as Mandela Day – an initiative of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. People worldwide are encouraged to devote time (specifically 67 minutes in recognition of his 67 years of service) community service to pay tribute to the anti-apartheid icon.

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Lewis Hamilton and Desmond Tutu sign the online pledge book

You can make your own pledge for global good at the official pledge book – a cause already receiving support from the likes of Desmond Tutu, Eddie Izzard, Jamie Oliver, One Direction and Lewis Hamilton.

Izzard, who sadly had to abort a marathon tribute to the icon, said: "Nelson Mandela is my greatest inspiration and on 18 July, his 94th birthday, is still a shining example to the world of what is possible.


"That is why I am joining millions building his legacy - Nelson Mandela's global movement for good at Mandela Day Pledge. I urge you to do likewise."

A statement from the One Direction camp said: “Nelson Mandela is an icon of our time and the idea behind Nelson Mandela Day is for people to take a moment to think of other people and even pledge a little time to help. Nelson Mandela turns 94 on July 18th, he has donated 67 years of that to helping others. Join us in the pledge book."

What's more, every person who pledges will automatically be entered in to a draw to win the chance to fly to South Africa and present the Pledge Book to the Nelson Mandela Foundation with a partner, courtesy of South African Airways.

Happy Birthday, Nelson Mandela