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New Mandela birthday coin

Published Jul 7, 2008

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South Africa launched a special coin on Monday as part of celebrations for the 90th birthday of former president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

The Reserve Bank said five million of the R5 coins, featuring a smiling portrait of Mandela, would go into circulation on his birthday, July 18.

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"We want people to touch a bit of Madiba, to share the love and leadership as the coin goes around," Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said at a ceremonial minting of one of the coins in Johannesburg, standing alongside a seated Mandela.

Many South Africans affectionately use the former president's clan name of Madiba.

The beaming Nobel laureate, also flanked by Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni, said he was honoured.

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"I am a bit richer this morning and I am not going to associate with poor people any more," he joked, holding up the coin for photographers.

"This is very nice."

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