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'Madiba, may you live long'
Music and storytelling marked the celebrations of former president Nelson Mandela's birthday in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Music and storytelling marked the celebrations of former president Nelson Mandela's birthday in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

"I wish him a happy birthday. I wish him comfort, joy and support in his work," said his daughter Zindzi Mandela, who opened proceedings at the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

"He has inspired a lot of people and I wish that he continues doing so," she said.

His grandchildren would be giving him a special, handmade present, she said, but she would not say what it was "because if I do it won't be a surprise".

More than 100 guests listened to an a cappella performance by the four-man Old Time Religion Quartet, from Pietermaritzburg, in the backyard garden of the foundation's Houghton premises. Also on the programme were Danny K, Roedean School's music group Thokoza, Theuns Jordaan, RJ Benjamin and Lira.

A highlight of the party was a rap collaboration by one of Mandela's grandsons and a grandson of his struggle counterpart Walter Sisulu.

"If it wasn't for you [Mandela] this country would not be what it is today. May the younger people learn from you and continue what you have started," said Daphne Silele, who was there to wish Mandela well.

Another guest, John Thanjekwayo (76), of Diepkloof, Soweto, described Mandela as an inspiration to people of all ages.

"I want say to him: 'Thank you. Thank you for the dedication you showed in creating a better country for all who live in it,'" said Thanjekwayo.

Chief Zibuse Mlaba, of Kwa-Ximba in Camperdown, who is also African National Congress chief whip in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, wished Mandela a long life. "Tata still has a tremendous role to play in the leadership of this country and the young leaders need him to guide them."

Ayesha Dassoo's message was: "Madiba, may you live long. You are an icon and may the Israelis learn from you so that there can be peace in Palestine.

"The people of Palestine are going through even worse apartheid than South African went through. Please try and intervene because your intervention will play a great role."

Mandela would spend his birthday with his children and grandchildren at his Houghton home in Johannesburg, his daughter said. -- Sapa