Madiba 90

Mandela at 90: In their words

2008-07-19 13:58

Special Report

Mandela: SA needs good leaders

Now as much as ever, South Africa needs disciplined leaders, Nelson Mandela has said at birthday celebration in Pretoria.

Johannesburg - Former South African president Nelson Mandela is many things to many different people around him. Some quotes from family and friends as he turns 90:

"He is simply a wonderful husband. We met in life at a time when we were both settled. We were grown up. We were settled. We knew the value of a companion as a partner. Because of that we have enjoyed this relationship in a really special way. It's not like when you are still young. You are too demanding. No no. We just accept each other as we are." - Mandela's third wife Graca Machel in an interview with CNN

"You know Queen Elizabeth? They refer to each on a first name basis. We say to him, "You have to say 'Your Majesty'." He will constantly reiterate "but no she is my friend this is how we call each other'." - Mandela's grandchild Ndaba, 25.

"Growing up with politics in our family and knowing him has helped us a lot. Like it's taught us to be humble, taught us to take people for who they are - not their colour or how much money they have, but what they saying and what they live their life by. That's important." - another grandchild, 23-year-old Kweku.

"He is an impossible act to follow. Whoever has had to could be only himself and not try to emulate Madiba. We are feeling a little rudderless" - Archbishop Desmond Tutu tells AFP what South Africa is missing in the post-Mandela (Madiba) political era.

"He is a very special man and his leadership qualities are obvious to all ... and he's a darn difficult thing to measure up to." - veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Helen Suzman, also 90 years old.

"The legacy of your struggle leaves future generations of South Africans with a freedom their ancestors only dreamed of; your charities will continue to give them a real chance for a brighter, healthier future; and the power of your example provides people everywhere with a source of strength on their own long walks to freedom." - former US president Bill Clinton

"Nelson Mandela is a leader no prison cell, no intimidation, no threat could silence. A man who's belief in the future was so powerful that not even 27 years behind bars and barbed wire could destroy his dream that millions could be free" - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

"You know, he says when he dies he's going to join the nearest branch of the ANC in heaven" - prominent human rights lawyer George Bizos.

"I have been saying Happy Birthday' to Mandela for over 30 years and, quite frankly, I'm tired. Of course he's helped a lot of people, but after that it's all about him, him, him." - Popular jazz musician Hugh Masekela responding to a request by The Times newspaper to pay tribute to Mandela on his birthday.

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