6 000 rock up for Mandela bash
Mvezo - People who gathered at former President Nelson Mandela’s main birthday event at Mvezo in the Eastern Cape believed the former president would reach the age of 100.
“I am praying that he reaches the age of 100. He is a wonderful person. It will be wonderful to have him for many more years,” said Andile Majova.
“I believe the whole world will be over the moon if he reaches 100. We must all pray for him,” said Christen Ngcobo.
Over 6 000 people attended Mandela’s birthday at Mvezo Royal Palace, the birthplace of the former president.
Some VIPs arrived in helicopters and expensive cars, while ordinary people arrived on horseback or walked to the world leader's birthplace.
The Mvezo royal palace is about 70km from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.
Mandela is also a senior member of the Mvezo royal family.
Parking lots around the venue were full and some dignitaries arrived in helicopters. President Jacob Zuma arrived in an army helicopter.
Zuma started by paying homage to the Mvezo Royal Chief, Mandla Mandela, the grandson of the former president. Mandela (Mandla) then presented Zuma with a bull.
Zuma was accompanied by his wife, Thobeka Madiba, United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa and Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana when he received the bull.
Zuma was unable to volunteer his time in line with the call for people to do 67 minutes of community work in honour of Mandela's birthday because he had arrived late.
Kings, political leaders and ambassadors were given an opportunity to convey their birthday messages to Mandela.
Speeches and music were not the only things that people enjoyed during the event. Government departments such as home affairs and social development also provided services to the people.
There were also companies that provided free HIV testing and counselling. Delivering the keynote address, Zuma called on South Africans to unify by drawing lessons from Mandela's legacy.
"One of the lessons that we must draw from the Mandela legacy is that we must work together to entrench unity and solidarity in our country," Zuma said.
Mandela had fought for unity and human dignity, he said.
Zuma said the spirit of unity displayed during the World Cup showed that unity between people of different races was possible.
During the FIFA World Cup South Africans were united and they worked together to achieve one goal.
"We urge a continuation of this spirit of African unity, love and friendship.”
Zuma said the patriotism and unity that prevailed during the World Cup demonstrated to the world that South Africa had a great future.
He thanked all South Africans who dedicated 67 minutes to improve the lives of others.
He also promised the people of Mvezo that government would construct a bridge which will link their area with Idutywa.
“The bridge will reduce the distance from here to Idutywa drastically. I have been told that the kilometres will be reduced by 30km."
Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet said the province was proud to have produced a world icon in Mandela.
Holomisa promised to plant 92 indigenous trees to celebrate Mandela's birthday.
Democratic Alliance's Athol Trollip said his party respected Mandela for what he did for South Africa and his love for children.
Mandela would not attend the festivities in his village because he would be spending the day at home with family in Johannesburg.
Controversial abaThembu king, Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo presented the Mandela family with a Nguni cow for Mandela.
The king is facing a 15-year jail sentence for a string of violent crimes and he recently made headlines when he called for an independent state for abaThembu stretching from certain parts of KwaZulu-Natal.
His offences include culpable homicide, kidnapping, arson and assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm.
He is presently on bail pending appeal.