Madiba 90

Mandela's 'unique quality'

2008-07-17 14:47

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 - Birthday wishes for Nelson Mandela started trickling in on Thursday, a day before South Africa's most adored politician celebrates his 90th in his Eastern Cape home town.

The Nobel peace laureate's birthday celebrations started three weeks ago with a star-studded London concert in support of his 46664 campaign.

Since then, a Mandela coin and stamp have been launched, the publishing of a comic book has been announced and a campaign to sell gold, platinum and silver 46664 wrist bangles has taken off.

Also, the Nelson Mandela Foundation had announced it would launch a 240-page coffee-table book commemorating the first post-apartheid president's contribution to history.

His wife of 10 years, Graca Machel, said in an interview with Al-Jazeera ahead of his birthday: "The world needs symbols. The world needs to highlight the best values we can find in certain human beings... Mandela is one of those. So we deliberately minimise his weaknesses."

A unique quality

As his home town of Qunu prepared for a private party with around 500 guests on Saturday, organisations started sending good wishes to the icon.

"Madiba has had a unique ability to unify and inspire the people of South Africa, the continent and the whole world," Congress of SA Trade Unions spokesperson Patrick Craven said.

The trade union said it had inaugurated an award for outstanding leadership and that Mandela would be the first recipient.

"You have been a constant inspiration to us from the days of the Congress of the People, through the armed struggle, the dark days in prison and exile, the mass uprisings of the eighties, to the period of negotiations, and finally the days of liberation and reconstruction," said Craven.

Miracle that is South Africa

SA Tourism chief executive Moeketsi Mosola thanked Mandela for leading an exemplary life.

"South African Tourism thanks you for helping to put South Africa on the map as a beacon of hope, dignity and reconciliation for the world.

"We thank you, too, for inspiring people the world over to come and visit our country, to share our excitement in the political, natural and, above, all, profoundly human miracle that is South Africa."

Opposition leader Helen Zille said Mandela was an inspiration to many.

"He demonstrated the capacity to see beyond the present situation, with its pressures and competing vested interests, and take bold decisions in the interests of future generations.

Commemorative magazine

"Equally important has been his capacity to inspire people to follow his lead. We rejoice in his leadership and wish him fulfilment and happiness in the years ahead," the Democratic Alliance leader said.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies announced the publication of a commemorative magazine to celebrate Mandela's birthday.

"The illustrated publication comprises the personal reminiscences of over thirty prominent Jewish South Africans who have been associated with Mr Mandela in the course of his career. They include Helen Suzman, Judges Arthur Chaskalson and Albie Sachs, Ali Bacher, Tony Leon, Meyer Kahn and Raymond Ackerman," it said.

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