Monday, July 17, 2006

Former South African President Nelson Mandela Celebrates 88th Birthday


17 July 2006

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the African National Congress, on behalf of the entire leadership and membership of the ANC, extended heartiest congratulations and best wishes to President Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his 88th birthday.

In a message on the eve of Nelson Mandela's 88th birthday on 18 July 2006, the NWC said:

"Dear Cde Madiba,

"The African National Congress, the democratic movement and the people of South Africa salute you on the occasion of your 88th birthday.

"As we mark the achievement of this milestone in your life, we celebrate together the extraordinary contribution that you have made, and continue to make, to the realisation of the goal of a better life for all our people.

"We continue to draw inspiration and courage from your leadership and from your unwavering commitment to the ideals of our movement and to the cause of our people. We seek always to emulate the humility, selflessness and service which you - like so many of our heroes and heroines - have embodied throughout your life of struggle.

"We hope that you may celebrate this birthday and may enjoy your much earned retirement secure in the knowledge that we will not stumble or falter in our efforts to build a South Africa which truly belongs to all.

"Happy Birthday Madiba, and many more."

The ANC has set up a facility on its website for members of the public to send birthday greetings to Madiba online. This facility, which will be active for the rest of the week, can be found at:

Issued by:
African National Congress
National Working Committee
PO Box 61884
Marshalltown, 2107

17 July 2006
More information: Smuts Ngonyama 082 569 2061

Monday July 17, 11:44 PM

Cuba's Castro sends Mandela 88th birthday cigars

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's Nelson Mandela said on Monday he "never imagined" reaching the age of 88 as he received one of his first birthday presents -- a shipment of rum and cigars from Cuban President Fidel Castro.

As well wishes poured in ahead of the anti-apartheid icon's birthday
on Tuesday, Mandela held a private party with the staff of his
foundation and blew out candles on a giant birthday cake.

"In my younger days I never imagined that such an occasion would
occur," a smiling Mandela said, reminiscing that a boyhood spent
engaged in traditional stick fighting could have shortened his life

"If you look at my body you will see a lot of marks that were caused
by fighting with sticks. And I never thought I would abandon that,"
Mandela said, showing off a scar on his leg.

Mandela's appearances have become increasingly rare after his
announcement in 2004 that he was retiring from public life, and aides say he plans to spend his birthday on Tuesday in private with family.

But the Nobel Peace laureate still grabs chances to promote his main causes, which include Africa's fight against HIV/AIDS and the need to increase educational opportunities for children.

"Today we want children who are educated, because if you have no
education you can never lead," Mandela said on Monday, adding that he was gratified by the response his pleas for more help with schools had received.

"When I came out of jail I came to a new South Africa," said Mandela,
who walked free in 1990 after some 27 years spent in apartheid
prisons. "When I went to jail nobody was interested in educating
black children."

Mandela's spokeswoman, Zelda La Grange, said the man affectionately known as "Madiba" around South Africa was in fine shape and looking forward to his birthday.

"He's doing very, very well," La Grange told the SABC public
broadcaster. "He regularly goes for medical check-ups ... we are very
happy that he is in good spirits and good health on his 88th

La Grange said presents for Mandela were beginning to arrive from
around the world, including a pair of hand-made sheepskin slippers
from village women in South Africa's Eastern Cape province and the
special birthday shipment from Cuba's Castro.

"The president kept his promise and sent the rum and cigars," La
Grange said of Castro. Mandela, however, is a committed anti-smoker and not known as a drinker.

1 comment:

Pan-African News Wire said...

JOHANNESBURG 17 July 2006 Sapa-AFP


Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela turns 88 on Tuesday and
despite being in exceptional health for his age, South Africa's favourite son is appearing less and less in the public eye.

Madiba, as Mandela is affectionately known by his Xhosa clan name, will spend a quiet birthday with his family at his ancestral home in Qunu, in South Africa's rural Eastern Cape province, his foundation said.

"Madiba will have no public engagements at all on Tuesday," the Nelson Mandela Foundation's Verne Harris told AFP this week, saying the shift from his public larger-than-life persona to a more private one, came at the Nobel peace laureate's own request.

"This shift is taking place in response to Madiba's own request. He has retired formally from public life," Harris said, referring to an announcement made two years ago.

But although Mandela on a personal level has withdrawn largely from public engagements, his foundation is continuing to capture the legacy of one of the world's best-known figures.

"Madiba has given us at the foundation his personal mandate
to shift to memory and dialogue work," said Harris.

The shift to capture Mandela's legacy through remembrance -
including photo exhibitions of his early years and a tribute to his former university - is seen as an acknowledgment that the statesman who steered South Africa after its first democratic elections in 1994, will not be around forever.

Although his health is slowly failing, Mandela remains in
remarkably good shape for a man his age and somebody who spent almost three decades of his life in prison.

"His short term memory is not up to scratch, according to those close to him, and his knees are causing him distress," the Johannesburg-based Saturday Star reported over the weekend.

"But he remains in good spirits and his 'almost wicked'sense of humour... shows no sign of disappearing," the paper said.

The elderly statesman last week demonstrated his sense of humour when he joked with long-time friend and veteran photographer Alf Khumalo, who is staging a photo exhibition of Mandela's early days as a lawyer.

"Ah Alf, I see you're still here. You should go on retirement," a broadly beaming Mandela told his friend, referring to his own withdrawal from public life which he often refers to as "retirement from retirement."

Yet, despite the "public" Mandela becoming a "private" one, he still has a punishing schedule of engagements to fulfil around his birthday.

It started last week with the launch of a book of a series of
lectures by prominent black thinkers on the "Meaning of Mandela." - and the photo exhibition by Khumalo and
another veteran, Jurgen

His next appearance is scheduled for Thursday, where he and
other graduates of Fort Hare University - the alma mater of many of the struggle's heros - will be given honorarium rings.

A week later, on July 29, his birthday will be capped by a
speech given by President Thabo Mbeki in his honour at the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture.

While Mandela celebrates another birthday next week in public
and in private, his legions of well-wishers will no doubt reflect on just what his legacy means.

"Madiba means so many things to so many people," said academic Xolela Mangcu, who compiled the "Meaning of Mandela" with lectures by American thinkers Henry Louis Gates Jr, Cornel West and Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka.

"But the only thing that brings people together is the idea
of freedom, the idea of plurality and the idea of tolerating each other."

"That's what Nelson Mandela stands for," he said.