Nightly News   |  July 18, 2013

Much to celebrate as Mandela turns 95, health improves

Thousands of well-wishers gathered outside the hospital where former South African president Nelson Mandela is recovering. After weeks of worry, his health is said to be improving. NBC’s Ron Allen reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> nelson mandela turned 95 years old today. it is a huge milestone for this man the world has been worrying about and wondering about and praying for. he has now been hospitalized in critical condition for just short of six weeks. and while it has looked awfully grim at times, there were celebrations today, especially when word came forth from his family that he is making, in their words, remarkable progress. we get our report tonight from nbc's ron allen in pretoria , south africa .

>> reporter: today in south africa , celebration after weeks of worry. nelson mandela , his health now said to be improve willing, has reached his 95th birth day. students across the country, like these at a school mandela himself attended began their day in song.

>> we all praying for you to get better soon.

>> reporter: outside the hospital, thousands of well wishers, family members gathered in his hospital room. former wife, winnie mandela .

>> thank you for showing how much you love your country.

>> reporter: throughout the celebrations, encouraging word is reaching the crowd about mandela 's help. his family continues to insist his overall condition is getting better day by day. mandela remains in critical condition , battling a lung infection, but well enough to watch tv, smile at birthday wishes, perhaps even leave the hospital soon says his daughter.

>> medical doctor, one who determines whether he goes back home. i'm confident it will be some time soon.

>> reporter: this was also a day of giving. south africans asked to give 67 minutes of volunteer work to honor mandela 's 67 years of service. president zuma opening low-income housing for pretoria 's poor. nelson mandela , who has survived so much, honored today for reaching another milestone. ron allen , nbc news, pretoria .