South Africa’s elder statesman Nelson Mandela is marking his 90th birthday Friday in a private celebration with his family at his home in the Eastern Cape. However, as VOA’s Delia Robertson reports from our bureau in Johannesburg, the rest of the country is celebrating very publicly.
From the national cabinet to kindergartens, from hospital wards to prison cells, and shopping malls to sidewalk-sellers, most South Africans seem to be celebrating the 90th birthday of the much-loved Nelson Mandela, these days affectionately and almost exclusively known here by his clan-name, Madiba.
For many, such as President Thabo Mbeki, marking Madiba’s birthday means honoring his legacy.
“And I do hope that when we celebrate the birthday, it will not be only that we say: thank you for the past ninety years, but we must say, thank you for ninety years that have shown us how to move forward, because the task of the transformation of South Africa has not been completed,” said Mr. Mbeki.