- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: Birthday songs, cakes and celebrations as Mandela turns 90
- Date: 19th July 2008
- Summary: (BN10) SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA, (JULY 18, 2008), (REUTERS) "HAPPY BIRTHDAY MADIBA 90 YEARS", WRITTEN ON A POSTER IN FRONT OF A MINI-BUS OUTSIDE MANDELA FAMILY MUSEUM CHILDREN BEING ASSISTED OUT OF MINIBUS / PAN TO FAMILY MUSEUM CLOSE OF THE BIRTHDAY CAKE WITH WRITING "HAPPY 90TH BIRTHDAY MANDELA" CHILDREN AND TEACHERS SINGING "HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU"
- Embargoed: 3rd August 2008 13:00
- Location: South Africa
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: People
- Reuters ID: LVAEGHRP90HUEPZE7ZZASARTSVD2
- Story Text: Former South African president Nelson Mandela speaks to journalists at his family home as South Africa marks his 90th birthday, while former Robben Island prisoner Tokyo Sexwale cuts a cake with Mandela's number 46664, in his honour.
Birthday wishes poured in for Nelson Mandela on Friday (July 18) as South Africa's much loved grandfather celebrated turning 90 with family and friends at his hometown of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
Newspaper and magazine headlines paid tribute to the man who is hailed as a shining example of the power of forgiveness and reconciliation after being imprisoned for 27 years.
Mandela invited media to his home in Qunu, again revealing his smile and sense of humour which have made him a treasured international icon.
Affectionately known as "Madiba" in South Africa, Mandela transcends races and opinions in the country and has dedicated many of his more recent years to tackling poverty.
"When there are many people in South Africa who are rich, who can share those riches with people who are not so fortunate, who have not been able to conquer poverty, if you look around -- even in towns, not only the countryside, even in towns -- there's a lot of poverty," he told reporters.
He is rare among African leaders in agreeing to give up power quickly, after only one term following the 1994 end of apartheid.
On Friday, he said he was grateful to be able to mark such an important birthday.
"I'm happy that I've lived until now because there are not many people who look after themselves and who can live for such a long time and I'm happy that I'm still alive," he said, seated comfortably in his family home and wearing one of his trademark patterned shirts.
After six months of international celebrations, the frail Mandela spent his birthday quietly with family and friends at his childhood home at Qunu in the Eastern Cape. Mandela has said he wished he could have spent more time with his family in a life of fighting apartheid.
A group of his grandchildren crowded round his chair to sing "happy birthday".
In Soweto, school children delivered a birthday cake and sang "happy birthday" at the Mandela family museum while others wished him well.
"Madiba is my celebrity, I would like to wish him good luck for the rest of his life" said Simon in Kliptown.
"I would like to wish Mandela a happy, happy birthday, and may we see him in many, many years, wish to see you in 2010," said Lerato, another Soweto resident.
At his inauguration in 1994, South Africa's first democratically-elected president marked a milestone in the country and the world's history, vowing an end to oppression.
"Madiba's 90th birthday is indeed, I think, a very important birthday for him, but I think for all of us as South Africans. It's a day we should celebrate because, you know, we are celebrating a person who has done such an enormous amount of good, for us as a people, for us as a country," said South African President Thabo Mbeki.
Mandela jointly won the Nobel Peace prize in 1993 with former South African president FW de Klerk for their joint role in steering South Africa safely from apartheid to a multi-racial democracy.
Former Robben Island prisoners Tokyo Sexwale and Mac Maharaj also celebrated Madiba's 90th Birthday by cutting a cake with Mandela's prison number 46664, on Friday in Robben Island.
Sexwale and Maharaj spent years imprisoned on Robben Island with Mandela.
In praising Mandela, Sexwale said that this was good as they had spent many years without celebrating and eating cakes while in prison.
"Well Madiba, this one it's good for you, for many years we were here and there no Christmas cakes for quite a while, and this Mac Maharaj (also a former prisoner) was not behaving... remember it's Mac Maharaj who smuggled the famous epic the Long Walk to Freedom, from Robben island,"
Thousands of people are expected to attend a function on Saturday (July 19) in Mandela's honour.
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