A prayer for the world's poor on Mandela's 90th

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The Independent Online

He may be the world's adopted grandfather, but it was with his actual grandchildren that Nelson Mandela chose to celebrate his 90th birthday yesterday in the rural South African village he calls home. Sitting in his favourite yellow armchair, his legs covered with a blanket, Mr Mandela said he wished he had been able to spend more time with his family, although he was quick to stress he had no regrets about a life spent fighting apartheid and becoming the nation's first black president.

He said he was lucky to have reached this milestone. "If you are poor, you are not likely to live long," he said. "There are many people in South Africa who are rich and who can share those riches with those not so fortunate who have not been able to conquer poverty."

His one-time foe F W de Klerk led the tributes. "He was a hard, sometimes remorseless, negotiating partner and our relationship was often severely strained," South Africa's last white president said. "Now... I am honoured to be able to call him my friend."