June 1, 2004

Mandela retires from public life

Former President Nelson Mandela has announced his retirement from public life, and has pleaded with South Africans to afford him time to spend with his family - away from the public eye. Speaking from his home in Johannesburg, the country's first democratically elected President said the much-needed rest would afford him an opportunity to read more and reflect on life. "One of the things that made me long to be back in prison was that I had so little opportunity for reading, thinking and quiet reflection after my release...and of course, there are those memoirs about the presidential years that now really need my urgent attention," he explained. Madiba who turns 86 next month said, though, that he did not intend to hide away totally from the public but would want to be in a position to call rather than be called to participate in events. "The appeal therefore is: don't call me, I will call you," he said.

His retirement should not be misinterpreted as the demise of the three organisations bearing his name, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Rhodes Foundation, he furthermore said. "The leadership of what we call the three Mandela legacy organisations are present here today as proof and assurance that our work will continue, perhaps in an even more focused way now that the attention shifts from the individual to the organisations". (Bua News, Pretoria)

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