Nelson Mandela Foundation


Mr Mandela enjoys a glass of wine at a private luncheon

July 11, 2008 – As his 90th birthday approaches, Nelson Mandela is engaged in an increasing number of birthday-related events and activities. He is trying as far as possible to meet the needs of people from all walks of life to see him and to celebrate his life and work.

Through 2008 his office has received an average of just under 4000 requests a month for his involvement in projects, processes and issues. This load increased exponentially in June. Simply processing them all timeously is a substantial organisational challenge.

For someone of Mr Mandela’s age, his schedule is demanding. He reaches as far as he can to fulfil the duty he feels strongly and immemorially.

On Tuesday 8 July he satisfied his own need to relax with old friends and comrades at a quiet, private luncheon. There were no formalities – apart from the requisite welcoming speech by Ahmed Kathrada – and no duties to perform. The focus was on catching up, telling stories, teasing, and reminiscing. Out of respect for privacy, no tape recorders were present, although the richness of memory at play wanted to be recorded.

Not everyone invited was able to make it. For the record, sharing the special moment with him and his wife were (in alphabetical order, no protocol observed):

Esther Barsel
Sophie de Bruyn
Bertha Gxowa
Rica Hodgson
Ahmed Kathrada
Mac Maharaj
Henry Makgothi
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
Joe Matthews
Andrew Mlangeni
Ruth Mompati
Mosie Moolla
Agnes Msimang
Gertrude Shope
Albertina Sisulu