Desmond Tutu

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"The greatest gift our nation could possibly give uTata Nelson Mandela for his 94th birthday this week would be to emulate his magnanimity and grace," Tutu said.

"Mr Mandela taught us to love ourselves, to love one another and to love our country. He laid the table so that all South Africans could eat; we must ensure all members of the family are invited."

Tutu said citizens should spend a few quiet moments on Wednesday thinking about Mandela's gift to the nation.

His gift had been to place reconciliation and national unity at the top of the agenda.

Tutu said the revered leader had also been willing to listen to others, to solicit and acknowledge all points of view, to set an example of forgiveness and tolerance, and to inspire hope and pride in others.

On Wednesday, also known as Mandela Day, many people intended dedicating 67 minutes to a worthy cause, in honour of Mandela fighting for social justice for 67 years.