Mandela reaches 91st birthday

Original source:

Nelson Mandela's supporters have celebrated the anti-apartheid icon's 91st birthday yesterday by emulating him with good deeds.

Mr Mandela had called on people to spend time doing good on the first Mandela Day, which his charity foundation hopes will be an annual event.

South Africans collected clothing for poor children, painted schools, planted trees near Mr Mandela's boyhood home and renovated a building in Johannesburg for people left homeless by a fire.

In Soweto, Thembekile Tshabalala invited community members to play with disabled children at her Nkanyezi Stimulation Park, a cheery playground with seesaws and swings designed to accommodate children in wheelchairs.

More than 50 parents, volunteers and children were there, among them Khumo Bojanyane, who owns a construction company.

'We were motivated by the man himself,' said Bojanyane. 'We're so encouraged by his life, by his selflessness and sacrifices.'

South African President Jacob Zuma paid a birthday visit to Mr Mandela at his home in Johannesburg.

Mr Zuma was joined by party leaders and Mr Mandela's family, including wife Graca Machel and former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, as well as former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda and former Tanzanian president Hassan Mwinyi.

Mr Mandela blew out the candles on his cake, which was decorated in the black, green and gold colours of the ANC.

Mr Zuma said that Mr Mandela had taught the nation 'reconciliation and forgiveness and we learned from him that you achieve personal freedom and inner peace if you release hatred and bitterness from your heart.'