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Mandela Says he Wants To Spend More Time With Family & Friends - 2004-06-01


Former South African president Nelson Mandela has announced he is scaling back his public schedule to spend more time with family and friends. The 85-year-old anti-apartheid hero also wants to complete the second volume of his autobiography.

Mr. Mandela told a gathering of family, friends and party colleagues that he was, in his words, retiring from retirement, jokingly referring to the heavy work schedule he has kept since he stepped down as president five-years ago.

In those five years, Mr. Mandela has worked through his charitable organizations to establish schools and clinics, fund university scholarships and raise money for H.I.V./AIDS programs. All of the funds will continue under the management of trustees.

He has also devoted time to brokering peace in Burundi and acting as South Africa's ambassador at large. Most recently, he traveled to Zurich to support this country's successful bid to host the 2010 FIFA soccer world cup.

Mr. Mandela, who has appeared increasingly frail in recent months, will celebrate his 86th birthday in July. He says he is enjoying good health, and he believes no one will think him selfish to take advantage of his health to enjoy his family, his friends and quiet reflection.

He said he will also be completing the second volume of his autobiography, which will cover the period after he became president of South Africa.

The much loved elder statesman says he will appear in public from time to time, but he told the gathering, "Do not call me, I will call you."

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