QUNU, South Africa — It was Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday party Saturday and village elders, African royalty, and presidents joined him in a festive luncheon on his rural homestead. There were songs, laughter, teasing and tender words of praise for a man who remade South African society.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner celebrated privately with his family in this rural southeastern village Friday, the day he turned 90. Saturday was a grand occasion, held in a tent outside his homestead in Qunu, 600 miles south of Johannesburg, where as a boy he herded cattle in the hills.
The anti-apartheid icon walked into the tent with his successor to the South African presidency, Thabo Mbeki, and African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma, stopping to personally greet some of the 500 guests as he made his way to the head table.