JOHANNESBURG — Nelson Mandela’s African National Congressbrought its centenary celebrations to his home village in rural eastern South Africa Wednesday.
State television released images of a delegation led by the governing party’s national chairperson, Baleka Mbete, visiting the anti-apartheid icon’s Qunu home with a barrel-sized replica of the torch lit during the party’s 100th anniversary celebrations earlier this year. Mandela, surrounded by grandchildren and his wife, spoke briefly as he sat in an armchair, telling Mbete he was happy to see her.
Mbete joked that she wasn’t sure what was warming her more, being near Mandela or being near the lit torch. She added that he should enjoy his retirement, but “we want you to know that we miss you all the time.”
Mandela, who makes few public appearances, arrived in Qunu on Tuesday from Johannesburg, where he also has a home. Next month is his 94th birthday, and he often celebrates birthdays in the village where he grew up.
In February, Mandela was hospitalized in Johannesburg for a test to determine the cause of an undisclosed stomach ailment.
The Nobel peace laureate spent 27 years in prison for fighting racist rule. He became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 and served one five-year term.