President Nelson Mandela declared Sunday he is "blooming like a flower" after falling in love again but admitted the relationship unsanctioned by marriage is causing him trouble.
His face beaming, Mandela said the love he shares with Graca Machel, the widow of former Mozambique President Samora Machel, has brightened his life after so much hardship. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years for leading the fight against apartheid."I don't regret the reverses and setbacks I've had because, late in my life, I am blooming like a flower because of the love and support she has given me," the 79-year-old Mandela said in a tele-vision interview with the South African Broadcasting Corp.
His comments marked the first time Mandela has publicly professed his love for Machel. Word about their relationship emerged 11/2 years ago.
Mandela, who divorced his wife Winnie in 1996, met Machel in 1990, the year he was released from prison.
Machel, 52, spends her time in South Africa with Mandela and in Maputo, Mozambique's capital, with her children. Her husband died in a plane crash in 1986. She works on children's issues for the United Nations and has said she is not interested in marrying again.
Leading South African figures including former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu have complained to the president about his carrying on a relationship without being married.