Madiba 90

Media marks Madiba's big day

2008-07-18 11:29

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 - Awash with good wishes, South Africa's media highlighted the love and awe the country felt for Nelson Mandela on his 90th birthday on Friday, as some bemoaned what has become of his shining legacy.

Special Mandela 90th birthday editions, pull-out supplements and pages of tributes, memories and comments from well-wishers adorned the country's newspapers, the majority of which had the icon on their front page.

One of the most popular wishes for the world's favourite elder statesman is that of many more years.

Politicians, sportsmen, celebrities and everyone who is anyone, or not, had something to say as Mandela turned 90.

On the front page of The Citizen newspaper, the World Cup-winning Springbok Rugby team posed with a birthday cake they enjoyed to celebrate the day.

Look 'forward to his century'

In The Star, the South African cricket team told Madiba - Mandela's clan name - they looked "forward to his century".

Amid the well wishes, the weekly Mail and Guardian brushed on the sobering state of the country post-Mandela, saying the anti-apartheid icon's "legacy is under threat".

"The sweet celebration of a life of leadership, service and generosity is mixed with the sour taste of a legacy being polluted in front of the old man's tired eyes," it said.

"Where Mandela united, (current President Thabo) Mbeki has divided. His willingness to forgive and be reconciled with his former persecutors in the interests of South Africa is in sharp contrast with the 'politics of total take-over' that has gripped the ruling party."

However most chose to focus on the festivities.

In a full-paged advertisement, popular chicken restaurant franchise Nando's, famed for its cheeky ads, wished Madiba happy birthday from one Rolihlala (Madiba's middle name, meaning "troublemaker") to another.

The chain is offering all 90-year-olds a meal on the house.

Editorials remarked on the life of the great man.

"Yes, he led an armed struggle for a just cause but can anyone even think of another human being who has done as much for world peace - and peace in our land," said The Sowetan.

'Questionable judgement in shirts'

"Despite his sometimes questionable judgement in shirts, we remain in awe of the great uniter."

The Star recalled Mandela's eventful life, saying the real man, and all his political achievements, had been obscured "by sanctifying mythology".

"When he was released from prison, he emerged as a tall, slender man with a winning smile, a message of reconciliation and commitment to building a united nation," it said.

The newspaper carried a message on its front page from Mbeki, who said: "All of us as South Africans glow in the light of fame in part because we stand on the shoulders of this and other giants."

The birthday "grandfather" himself issued a recorded message played on public radio.

"We are honoured that you wish to celebrate the birthday of a retired old man who no longer has power or influence. We wish you well wherever you are. We are all celebrating and we thank you for joining me in those celebrations," Mandela said.

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