Mandela's birthday celebrations wind up

Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- South Africa awoke with a hangover Monday after three days of festivities to celebrate the 85th birthday of former President Nelson Mandela.
The country has never seen anything like this celebration, with some of the world's biggest celebrities jetting in to be part of the giant celebration, which culminated in a banquet in Johannesburg on Saturday night.
The glittering invitation-only event attracted 1,600 people, but millions of South Africans witnessed the entire event live on television.
Among the celebrity guests were former U.
S.
President Bill Clinton, American talk show host Oprah Winfrey, Irish rock star Bono, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, Hollywood actors Robert De Niro and John Cusack, Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King, supermodel Naomi Campbell and billionaire businessman Richard Branson.
Other notable guests were President Thabo Mbeki, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and white South Africa's last president, F.
W.
de Klerk.
Proffering a toast to the international statesman, Tutu thanked Mandela for all his sacrifices to bring South Africa to where it is at the moment.
"We thank God for you Madiba, for teaching us to forgive," Tutu said.
Although the celebrations continued late into the night, Mandela had an early start on Sunday when he officially opened a new bridge in Johannesburg named in his honour.
Eighty-five homing pigeons representing Mandela's age were released on the bridge, while the same number of pigeons was released from Soweto.
Thousands of runners then took part in a 10-kilometre race starting at the new bridge.
Mandela's celebrated his birthday, which was actually on last Friday, at his Johannesburg home where hundreds of well-wishers converged throughout the day.
The highlight of that event occurred when a South African Airways jet flew low over Mandela's home, to a rousing applause and cheers from the guests.
The SAA jet was also named in honour of the celebrant.

21 july 2003 08:40:00




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