In what is arguably his most significant gift to friend and former South African President Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton is lending his name to the effort to establish a global Mandela Day around his July 18 birthday. The campaign and Clinton's involvement will be announced today by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the humanitarian group named after his prison number: 46664.
Bubba, referring to the name friends give Mandela, says: "More than any human being, Madiba has been the great inspiration for the life I lead and the work I do, especially in the area of HIV/AIDS. In return for everything Madiba has taught us, we each owe it to him to support his work and legacy by doing and living our own as best we can, not just on this day but throughout our entire lives."
During and after his presidency, Clinton was close to Mandela, 90, and the Clinton Foundation was built around some of the same issues with which Mandela deals, such as HIV/AIDS.
Here's the deal: Mandela's foundation is eager to give the apartheid leader his day in the sun. They've established a campaign, http://www.mandeladay.com
, to make July 18 a day to both celebrate Mandela's life and his values. While the campaign launches today, posh parties will take place later in Washington and Los Angeles to herald Mandela Day. In Los Angeles, the actor Forest Whitaker and his wife will host one party.