Celebrations around the Globe as Mandela Hits 90; INTERNATIONAL

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Byline: By Rosamond Hutt

Birthday greetings from admirers ranging from politicians to pop stars to members of the public poured in for Nelson Mandela who turned 90 yesterday.

As celebrations took place around the world, South Africa's Xrst black president marked the milestone at a private party for 500 guests in his home village.

In London, fans gathered next to Mr Mandela's statue in Parliament Square to hold up coloured birthday cards to create a giant South African Flag.

Other tributes in the UK include the Vying of the South African Vag outside Edinburgh, Bristol and Plymouth council buildings; giant birthday cards available for the public to sign in Nottingham and Manchester; and parties featuring South African cuisine and dancing in Cambridge, Leicester, Leeds, Reading and Glasgow, where a container Xlled with 50,000 school books will be shipped to South Africa.

Mr Mandela's 90th birthday has also prompted the unveiling of commemorative memorabilia, including a series of stamps, a Xve-rand coin, bangles engraved with 46664, the name of his HIV/AIDS charity, and a collection of eight comic books depicting his life.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation also announced the launch of a 240-page coffee table book on the contribution to history of the man who led the drive to end the South Africa's apartheid era.

Tens of thousands of politicians, musicians, sporting heroes and ordinary fans of Mr Mandela-referred to affectionately in South Africa by his clan name Madiba-have posted birthday wishes on the happy birth day mandela.com website.

"Nelson Mandela is a leader no prison cell, no intimidation, no threat could silence," Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote, while Spanish Xlm director Pedro Almodovar declared: "We love you in Spain Mr Mandela."

A message sent by former US president Bill Clinton, his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton and their daughter Chelsea read: "No celebration or card can be big enough to encompass all the lives you have touched.

"Your sacriXces, your accomplishments, and your many gifts to our world have affected those no longer with us, as well as those not yet born. …