Former South African president Nelson Mandela (R) blows out his candles with his wife Graca Machel (L) at his 91st birthday celebrations at his home in Houghton Johannesburg. Photo by BGNES

The people of South Africa celebrated for the first time Saturday the Nelson Mandela Day along with the anti-apartheid symbol's 91st birthday.

Nelson Mandela himself and Mandela Day organizers encouraged people around the world to devote at least a minute for each of the 67 years Mandela campaigned against apartheid to community service.

South Africans collected clothing for poor children, painted schools, read to the blind, distributed blankets, planted trees near Mandela's childhood home in eastern South Africa, and renovated a building in downtown Johannesburg for people left homeless by a fire.

Mandela celebrated among a small circle of family and friends and leaders of the African National Congress party at his estate in Houghton, Johannesburg.

A Mandela Day concert took place in New York Saturday, with Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin and other stars performing for the benefit of Mandela's AIDS foundation.

The concert, which brought conclusion to the week-long celebrations in New York was opened by the "I will survive" song of Gloria Gainer.

A real sensation among the participants was Carla Bruni Sarkozy, wife of French President, Nickolas Sarkozy, who broke her promise to not perform at concerts while she is France's First Lady. Carla said she agreed because this has been a charity event.

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