Happy Birthday, Nelson Mandela
Some more celebrating in the Umtata/Qunu area of Eastern Cape:
Birthday messages have been pouring in, including one Thursday from world soccer chief Sepp Blatter, who lauded Mandela for dedicating his life "to the promotion of human rights and democracy".
In another birthday tribute Thursday, FW de Klerk, South Africa's last apartheid-era president who also served as Mandela's vice-president, called Mandela "one of the greatest figures of the 20th century".
Mandela at first planned a quiet affair in this picturesque Xhosa homeland with its rolling hills and turquoise huts. But there are now a variety of events planned in his honour in and around Qunu -- a soccer festival, a pop concert and lunch for 500 politicians, veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle and other guests at his home Saturday.
An exhibition of letters that children wrote to Mandela and the late United States civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks will be displayed at the Nelson Mandela Museum, a short distance from his house.
In the provincial capital of Mthatha, youngsters put the finishing touches to birthday greetings on a length of wall along Nelson Mandela Drive. "Your people salute you. Happy birthday, Madiba," the sign read.
Update: Even a so-called quiet birthday doesn't have to be completely silent:
Newspapers published special supplements and filled their pages with tributes that poured in for a man seen as the father of modern South Africa. Radio stations played tributes throughout the day.
"He gave us freedom. If it wasn't for him we would have not been where we are. Because of you, now I can walk freely. I can go to any school that I want and find a job of my own," student Barbara Phofo (20) said in Johannesburg.
In a symbol of how deeply he is respected across the races, Beeld, published in the Afrikaans language of the whites whose rule he devoted his life to overthrowing, ran 12 pages of tributes and stories about the former president.
After six months of international celebrations, the frail Mandela spent his birthday quietly with family and friends at his childhood home at Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
He called for the rich in Africa's biggest economy to share their wealth with the legions of poor who still struggle 14 years after the end of white rule.
Happy 90th, Madiba! Yeah, your birthday isn't until tomorrow, but festivities have already started, so we may as well post this now, right?
Nelson Mandela, former revolutionary, former President of South Africa, and present-day political icon, turns ninety.
Mandela will spend his birthday privately with family in Qunu, his boyhood village 600 miles south of Johannesburg. There, he built a replica of the house he was held in briefly after being moved off Robben Island, the desolate offshore prison where he spent most of his 27 years.
Mandela wrote in his autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom," that he chose to recreate the home because he knew it well and "would not have to wander at night looking for the kitchen."
Conventional numismatic wisdom says that the large number of new coins minted -- five million of them -- precludes it from ever becoming an "investment coin".
However, nothing about the former South African president fits convention. Everything related to Madiba -- including coins bearing his likeness -- seems to acquire a special aura. That is probably why the authorities felt it necessary to urge South Africans to spend, rather than hoard, the new coin.