Tired Mandela to scale down appearances

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The Independent Online

The former South African president Nelson Mandela is tired and will gradually withdraw from the public spotlight to focus more on charity work and writing his autobiography, a South African newspaper reported yesterday.

The former South African president Nelson Mandela is tired and will gradually withdraw from the public spotlight to focus more on charity work and writing his autobiography, a South African newspaper reported yesterday.

The Saturday Star quoted sources close to the 85-year-old Nobel peace laureate as saying he was in good health, but "bloody tired" and wanted more time to work on the second volume of his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.

Mandela, who maintains a packed schedule of domestic and overseas appearances, is currently in the Caribbean to help win backing for South Africa's bid to stage the World Cup in 2010. His spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

The former president, who has become increasingly frail and in 2002 was treated for prostate cancer, told a Caribbean children's rally where hundreds of adults and youngsters braved morning showers to catch a glimpse of him that, "This may be my last trip abroad." One of his hosts, Jack Warner, the Trinidadian vice-president of soccer's international governing body, Fifa, said Mandela had travelled against advice from his doctors. Neither Mr Warner nor Mr Mandela gave details of his condition.

The Saturday Star said the head of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, John Samuel, had confirmed that the workload of the icon of the anti-apartheid struggle would be lightened over the next few months, shifting more of his work to his charity organisations. But it said Mr Samuel denied that the former president would completely withdraw from public life. "When Mr Mandela is ready to do so he will announce his retirement from public life. The fact that we are trying to reduce his workload is being interpreted as retirement," Mr Samuel said.

Mr Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for fighting apartheid, won the Nobel Peace Prize before he became South Africa's first democratically elected leader in the inaugural all-race elections in 1994. He retired from national politics in 1999.

Since then he has criss-crossed the world making inspirational speeches and public appearances. Mr Mandela, who turns 86 on 18 July, now concentrates largely on issues involving children and Aids, the former through the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which provides funds to build schools and clinics. In the course of his fundraising and campaigning on Aids, he has said the disease poses as much of a threat to South Africa as the apartheid regime did. He has also strongly criticised the United States and Britain for attacking Iraq without a United Nations mandate.

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