South Africa's papers pay birthday tributes to Mandela

Johannesburg- South Africa (PANA) -- South African papers on Friday were united in their coverage of one single event: Nelson Mandela's 85th birthday.
Began the Star newspaper: "Today, 85 years ago, South Africa and, indeed, the world received a gift, a precious gift, in Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
" It added: "While it is not possible to give him back what he gave to his country and our continent, we join the millions that wish Madiba a special and memorable birthday.
" "God's gift to the world," the Citizen headlined its lead story.
The Sowetan simply said, "Madiba 85," and the Mail and Guardian wrote, "Madiba at 85.
" The Star said, "We honour him (Mandela) because he is the icon of that collective.
He is a symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle and of the victory over this evil system.
" The paper said it is tempting to think of him as a saint, but that he is not and he is human and he has made mistakes.
The Citizen said the extraordinary outpouring of goodwill on Mandela's birthday was both a tribute to his towering presence and a tacit acknowledgement of his mortality.
The paper quoted UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as saying, "To this day, Madiba remains probably the single most admired, most respected international figure in the entire world.
He continues to inspire millions of people and several generations throughout the globe.
" The independent Sowetan newspaper said Madiba will always be remembered for the monumental role he played in holding a racially divided society together through his personal efforts at political reconciliation across racial and ethic divides, his constant advocacy of inclusive unity and a seemingly total lack of bitterness.
"We salute.
Happy birthday, Madiba," the paper said.
The Mail and Guardian said, "In our generation the gods bequeathed us Nelson Mandela who, for billions around the world, has come to symbolise the virtues and vales needed to reverse the barbarism that characterised human behaviour in the past century.
" The newspaper urged people in celebrating Mandela to remember to tell him all the things while he lives.
"Let us remember to tell him -- even though he will strenuously resist this -- that he is, for this generation of humanity, what many of the great prophets and philosophers of previous aeons were to their generations.
"

18 july 2003 11:39:00




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