Page last updated at 16:23 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 17:23 UK

Nelson Mandela breaks his promise

Nelson Mandela stands by his award - the Freedom of the City of Pretoria - held by Mayor Gwen Ramokgopa (r)
Mr Mandela said he would not break his word again

Former South African President Nelson Mandela has broken a promise not to accept any more awards by receiving the Freedom of the City of Pretoria.

A few years ago, he said that he had passed on the "baton of leadership" and that others should be honoured.

But at a ceremony at the Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, Mr Mandela said he had changed his mind because he was grateful to be turning 90 soon.

"We shall from here on certainly not do this again," he said.

He said that he accepted the freedom of Pretoria, the nation's capital, "warmly and with humility".

Mr Mandela, who has cut down on public engagements in recent years, leaned on his cane and the capital's mayor during a brief appearance in front of reporters after the ceremony, AP news agency reports.

He turns 90 on 18 July, and there is a year-long series of events to celebrate the occasion.

Mr Mandela used Tuesday's occasion to comment on the recent attack on foreigners in the township of Alexandra.

"Remember the horror from which we come; never forget the greatness of a nation that could overcome its divisions and bring itself to where it is; and let us never again descend into destructive divisiveness, no matter what the considerations are," he said.

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