Sun Oct 23 05:22:41 SAST 2016

'Village boy' enjoys livestock

By unknown | Dec 15, 2006 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Christmas starts early for the world's favourite statesman, Nelson Mandela, 88.

Christmas starts early for the world's favourite statesman, Nelson Mandela, 88.

Though presents pour in throughout the year from all corners of the globe, peak times are his birthday on July 18 and Christmas, according to the staff of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, who are busy listing and storing the latest batch ofgoodies that have flooded in since last month.

"The range of gifts is truly awesome," said Verne Harris, the project manager of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.

"They vary from livestock to books and memorabilia, home- made jams and marmalade to whisky. It starts early and goes right up to the 25th or even after."

This year's offerings include a silver bottle opener crafted by Tiffany and Company, the famed New York jewellers, and the entire King James' version of the Bible in minute print on a single sheet of paper bordered by an extravagantly bold frame.

"Last year a merino sheep breeder gave him three of his best sheep and he was delighted," said Harris.

"And local tennis star Amanda Coetzer gave him personalised running shoes with his name emblazoned on them."

Other gifts are humble and from the heart.

"An Afrikaner prisoner who is spending 25 years in a Johannesburg prison sends him a home-made present every year because Mandela is his hero," said Boniswa Qabaka-Nyeti at the foundation. "Last year it was a papier mache bust of Madiba painted in gold."

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands gave him a cashmere shawl in Delft blue, and actor Robert de Niro opted for a still life in oil painted by his artist father.

Football icon David Beckham chose a book of photographs - of himself. "See you soon," Beckham inscribed on the inner sleave.

Other regulars include the Kennedys, the nearest equivalent to royalty in the US, as well as the Bushes and the Clintons, said Qabaka-Nyeti.

"He enjoys everything he gets," she said. "The sweetest gifts for me are things that people think he really needs, like a special back cushion to be used while he is travelling, to walking sticks, combs, chocolates, fruits.

"And then there is alcohol, lots and lots of it."

The treasure trove of gifts includes a pair of silver cuff links with the Lord's Prayer inscribed in tiny letters, gold-topped canes, jackets, neckties and mounds and mounds of books.

Qabaka-Nyeti said Mandela enjoys receiving cows as presents. "He loves cattle. He's still a village boy."

Mandela, who has homes in South Africa and Mozambique, chooses some gifts to display in his homes. - Sapa-AFP


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