July 18, 2008

Mandela Plans Quiet Day As He Turns 90

Former South African President Nelson Mandela planned to spend his 90th birthday Friday quietly with his family.

But the festivities in Qunu, his home village in the southeast of the country, have mushroomed, the BBC reports. There will be a birthday dinner for 500 guests Saturday, a concert and a soccer festival.

Mandela, the African National Congress leader who spent 27 years as a prisoner on Robben Island, is one of the most honored men in the world. His 90th birthday has already been marked by a concert in London and other international events.

One of those who paid tribute to Mandela on the eve of his birthday was F.W. DeKlerk, the last white president of South Africa.

After his inauguration, Nelson Mandela used his personal charm to promote reconciliation and to mold our widely diverse communities into an emerging multicultural nation, DeKlerk told reporters Thursday. This, I believe, will be seen as his greatest legacy.