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Party ends with 'Madiba Jive'
23/7/2003
 
 

It took 2 000 people to put together 1 600 people for Nelson Mandela's birthday party in Sandton on Saturday night, and it ended the way it had to
- with the former president and some of his world-class guests doing the "Madiba jive" as South Africa's Yvonne Chaka Chaka and U2's Bono let rip with a huge happy birthday song and dance.

Even the Dutch queen, Beatrix, looked as if she was about to let loose herself. However, those who did not restrain themselves as much were President Thabo Mbeki, former US president Bill Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Deputy President Jacob Zuma, US TV star Oprah Winfrey, PJ Powers and Virgin Atlantic boss Richard Branson.

The spontaneous jiving in the VIP section of the banqueting hall followed a spectacular finale of song and dance which marked the end of formal proceedings at South Africa's biggest birthday party in years.

The guests' food was influenced by Madiba's culinary preferences - Malay curry lentil soup followed by Cajun spiced chicken, malva pudding and the consummate panacea for those with a sweet tooth koeksisters - an Afrikaans traditional pastry oozing with sugar.

In typical Madiba fashion, more humble souls who help keep the Mandela train on track were also being invited to share this special evening.

Among them were those who assisted the Mandela family on a daily basis - the dry cleaner and the regular pharmacist. Mandela's doctors and hospital receptionists were also seated as was the current domestic staff from gardeners to cooks to farm workers

Freedom to forgive
The venue was swarming with eagle-eyed, dark-suited men with not so discreet ear phones in the United States style.

In paying tribute to Mandela, Tutu said: "Thank you for teaching us to forgive. We thank you for your compassion. Thank you for being a beacon of hope.
 
"Graca, thank you for making him glow like a teenager after his first kiss," Tutu said.

Clinton, in his tribute to Mandela said: "He is not shy about asking you about whatever it is he wants you to do. You have taught us the freedom of forgiveness ... shown us the power of humility."

And quoting from Irish poet Seamus Heaney, Clinton said: "You have made hope and history rhyme."

Professor Jakes Gerwel, the head of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and former top government official when Mandela was president, said: "Please stop making engagements and taking on tasks behind our backs."

An 82-piece orchestra and a host of dancers ensured that everyone had the time of their lives.

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