12 million children wish Mandela 'Happy Birthday'

By the Associated Press | July 18, 2011 | 2:40 AM EDT

A man reacts as he walks past a newspaper poster with a photo of former South African President Nelson Mandela on it in Mthatha, South Africa, Sunday, July 17, 2011. Millions of South Africans will celebrate Nelson Mandela's 93rd birthday on Monday, July, 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Millions of children around the country are singing 'Happy Birthday' to former South African President Nelson Mandela, to celebrate his 93rd birthday.

More than 12 million school pupils sang a special version of the song, written for the anti-apartheid leader, before lessons began Monday.

Mandela Day, inaugurated in 2009 and falling on the anti-apartheid icon's July 18 birthday, was conceived as an international day devoted to public service.

People around the world have been asked to mark the occasion by devoting 67 minutes of their time to work in their local community — one minute for every year of Mandela's public service.

Mandela is expected to spend the day with his family in his home village of Qunu in southern South Africa.