Stop pestering Mandela, foundation implores

"Nelson Mandela receives at least 4,000 messages a month from people throughout the world. Many of these pay tribute to Mr Mandela and wish him well in his retirement.

However, there are just many requests: for his signature, a message of support, a public appearance or an interview," his foundation, which manages his schedule, said in a statement.

"The Nelson Mandela Foundation would like to ask people everywhere to help make Madiba's retirement a time of peace and tranquillity," the Johannesburg-based organisation appealed.

Mandela spent 27 years in prison for resisting racist apartheid rule before becoming South Africa's first black president when the country won democracy in 1994.
He stepped down as president after a single term in 1999 and in 2004 announced his retirement from public life altogether, telling the world, in vain: "Don't call me, I'll call you."

In recent years, he has tried to get ordinary people to follow his example of self-sacrifice and leadership.

July 18, his birthday, has been named Nelson Mandela International Day, a day when people are asked to devote time to charitable work.

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