Mandela's village readies for anti-apartheid icon's 90th birthday

Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela planned to spend his 90th birthday Friday at home in the southeastern village of Qunu with his family, and the whole village is celebrating. "We are very excited," school principal Mpondomise Ndzambo said, sitting in this office beneath a photograph of the former president. "Usually these celebrations are done in Johannesburg, so this is a way of being part of it." Mandela was imprisoned for nearly three decades for his fight against apartheid. He was released in 1990 to lead negotiations that ended decades of racist white rule, then was elected president in South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994. He completed his term in 1999 and did not run again, but has continued to take a leading role in the fight against poverty, illiteracy and AIDS in Africa. His birthday is annual cause for celebration in South Africa and draws attention from his many local and international admirers. South Africa has been celebrating since the start of the year, with museum exhibitions, reunions of anti-apartheid veterans, a weekend speech by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and the launch of special coins and stamps.