Nelson Mandela celebrates 90th birthday

Nelson Mandela celebrates 90th birthday today at home in South Africa

After travelling the globe making public appearances, Nelson Mandela is celebrating his official 90th birthday today at his village home with family.

The man who was instrumental in ending apartheid in South Africa and rose from being held prisoner for 27 years to becoming the first black president of the country, has been praised across the world in the weeks leading up to his milestone birthday.

Former President FW de Klerk led the tributes to Mr Mandela, who since stepping down as president in 1999, has become the highest-profile ambassador for South Africa, campaigning against HIV/AIDS and helping to win the country’s bid to host the 2010 football World Cup.

Mr Mandela retired in 2004 at the age of 85 to spend more time with his family and friends and engage in ‘quiet reflection’.

Although the birthday celebrations in his home village of Qunu were intended to be a quiet affair, a string of events including a local football festival, a concert and a dinner for 500 guests has been organised.

He was described by Mr de Klerk as one of the greatest figures of the 20th century: ‘After his inauguration Nelson Mandela used his personal charm to promote reconciliation and to mould our widely diverse communities into an emerging multicultural nation. This I believe will be seen as his greatest legacy.’

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