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Nelson Mandela will not be attending the 100th anniversary of the African National Congress (ANC) due to health issues Voice of America reports.

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Party Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe announced Friday that Mandela will miss the activities saying, “he is in good spirits, but very, very old.”

It is expected, however, that Mandela will send a message to be read at the celebration.

The aging South African statesman, who turns 94 this year, is idolized by his countryman and considered the father of the anti-apartheid movement.  When Mandela was released in 1990 after 27 years of imprisonment, South Africans of all races looked to him to stop their nation from falling into a racial civil war. And he did.  Serving as the ANC president from 1994 to 1999, the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s focus was to bring peace to his people.  Under his leadership, a long list of progressive social reforms were enacted to reduce inequalities amongst the country’s black population.

The ANC celebration is expected to draw more than 100,000 people and more than 40 heads-of-state and dignitaries. Emeritus Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu is expected to join Sunday’s festivities in Mangaung, Free State Province.  The party is said to be celebrating its core principles of allowing people to chose their own destiny in a “united, non-racial, non-sexist nation.”

Founded on January 8, 1912, the ANC has spiraled downward as far as its popularity.  Critics point out that the South African people are no longer the party’s focus and that corruption reigns supreme.

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