Huge celebration for Nelson Mandela who turns 87

Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- Former President Nelson Mandela's 87th birthday celebrations kicked off in spectacular style at midnight on Sunday with fireworks extravaganza on Robben Island and the lighting of a torch in his former prison cell.
The ceremony was the first step in the six-day event in which the torch is to be carried on a route winding through nine provinces as a spectacular celebration of Mandela's birthday.
A team of runners will carry the AIDS-awareness torch to reach the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg shortly before the kick- off of the Mandela Cup rugby match between the Springboks and Australia on Saturday.
The Springboks will wear Mandela's former prison number, 46664, on their jerseys for the match.
Meanwhile, congratulations are flooding in for the world statesman who stepped down as South Africa's first democratically elected President in 1999.
The ruling African National Congress on Sunday extended its "warmest wishes" to Mandela, saying he continues to be a source of inspiration and leadership to the party.
"As a movement, we will continue to draw on the example of Nelson Mandela in the ongoing struggle to build a better life for all South Africans.
The official opposition Democratic Alliance also wished Mandela well on his birthday, saying he was "embraced in God's kind circle".
The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said it commended Mandela for his sacrifices and "unending efforts" for the well being of the working masses.
"He has now provided critical support for the movement against world poverty, for fair trade and development and especially for upliftment in Africa".
Mandela will spend the day at his childhood home of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

18 july 2005 13:05:00




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