Celebrations in South Africa and around the World are already underway in honour of former President Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela as he turns 90 years on 18th July 2008. Many South Africans refer to this giant of the African Continent as ‘uTata’ (father) or just as Madiba, an honorary title adopted by elders of Mandela's clan. Madiba, despite having to endure 27 years of imprisonment at the Robben Island by the then Apartheid government, when he emerged from prison on 11 February 1990, instead of being consumed by bitterness and temptation to revenge, he appeared with an amazing nobility and generosity that allowed him to understand the anxieties and concerns of his former enemies.
To South Africans, Madiba is the father of the Rainbow Nation and, above all, he embodies the country’s number one guiding principle of UBUNTU- an African humanist philosophy focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a 1984 Noble Peace Prize laureate and a close friend of Madiba, describes the concept of Ubuntu as follows, “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”
In celebrating this important day former President Mandela will host a private celebration at his home in Qunu village in the Eastern Cape Province on Saturday, 19th July 2008, a day that will also serve to celebrate his tenth anniversary of marriage to Ms Graça Machel since 1998. As part of a series of events planned to celebrate the life of this icon throughout this year, Los Pumas (the Argentine national rugby team) have been invited to play against the 2007 Rugby World Cup Champions, the Springboks, in a Test match that will be held in Johannesburg’s Ellis Park stadium on Saturday, 09 August 2008.
In this regards, the South African Embassy in Argentina wishes Madiba a well-deserved birthday and also concurs with Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka when she says, “for his entire life, Mr Mandela has lived true to the principle of ‘be the change you want to see in the world.’’