The world is today celebrating the 90th birthday of Nelson Mandela, one of the world’s most lauded promoters of human rights.

The former president of South Arica, Mandela is marking his birthday at his Qunu, Eastern Cape rural home as tributes roll in from laypeople, celebrities and politicians from around the globe.

Mandela is credited in large part with the peaceful transition to democracy in South Africa and for supporting the country’s constitution that entrenches equality for gays and lesbians; often described as one of the world’s most progressive constitutions.

The 1999 documentary The Man Who Drove With Mandela examined the friendship between Mandela and gay freedom fighter Cecil Williams who posed as the then wanted activist’s chauffeur when they were arrested in 1962.

Mandela has also been an active promoter of campaigns to fight HIV/AIDS and to end poverty in Africa; raising millions through his 46664 project.

He has received more than 200 local and international honours. These include the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, the Order of Merit and the Order of St John from Queen Elizabeth II and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush.

This week the South African Post Office unveiled a limited number of stamps to mark the icon’s birthday.

In a statement on Friday, the South African cabinet congratulated Mandela on his birthday:

“Your vision has implanted in our society the seeds of social cohesion and national reconciliation to which posterity will look back with awe and admiration. From your exemplary leadership, marked by uprightness and commitment to the cause of justice for all, we have come to learn the virtues of forgiveness, reconciliation and tolerance.”

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