South Africa says former president Nelson Mandela's health is "steadily improving" as he turns 95 years old Thursday.
President Jacob Zuma wished Mr. Mandela happy birthday in a statement, saying South Africa is proud to call the international icon its own.
Mr. Mandela has been hospitalized for more than a month with a recurring lung infection. Officials describe his condition as "critical but stable."
South Africans have big celebrations planned for his birthday Thursday, which has been designated an international day of service.
Known as "Mandela Day," people are asked to give 67 minutes of their time doing something charitable, or one minute for each year he dedicated to his struggle for social justice.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who visited South Africa last month, said in a statement late Wednesday that people everywhere can honor Mr. Mandela by "heeding his example" through acts of service.