Madiba 90

Mandela to host birthday bash

2008-07-19 10:05


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Mandela: SA needs good leaders

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

Qunu - Nelson Mandela, fresh from being feted at home and abroad on his 90th birthday, will host a banquet on Saturday for the new generation of South African leaders as well as hundreds of friends.

Thabo Mbeki, who served as Mandela's deputy president before becoming only the country's second black head of state in 1999, and Jacob Zuma, leader of the ruling ANC party and favourite to become president next year, are among the 500 guests due to attend the lavish celebrations in the rural Eastern Cape.

Mandela's fellow Nobel peace prize winner Desmond Tutu and former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda were also expected for a feast which will include traditional food such as tripe and sheep's heads on the menu.

While Mandela spent his birthday on Friday with his family, Saturday's event will give some of his legion of admirers an opportunity to express their best wishes in the flesh at his homestead in the village of Qunu.

"We would like to thank him (for) what he has done for us, what he has done for the people of South Africa," Mbeki said in a televised interview.

While the focus of the celebrations would be in Qunu, those unable to secure an invite were planning to stage their own tributes, with a concert in Johannesburg's landmark Nelson Mandela Square among the highlights.

Humility, courage and wisdom

Although Mandela retired from public life four years ago he has continued to be involved with his charitable foundation, raising millions of dollars for victims of the AIDS pandemic and to help underprivileged children.

Youngsters were to get the chance to pay their respects at an exhibition of painting by children from across the world which was being staged at the Nelson Mandela Museum, close to Qunu.

"The museum is what Madiba (Mandela's clan name) stands for: humility, courage and wisdom," said Kader Asmal, the chairman of the board of the museum, who served as a minister during Mandela's five years as president.

Pre-recorded video messages from United States presidential contender Barack Obama and Tutu would also be shown at the museum, located about three kilometres from Mandela's house, a family member told AFP.

Mandela served 27 years as a prisoner for his leading role in the fight against the whites-only apartheid regime before being released in 1990. He was elected president in 1994.


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