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June 14, 2013

S. African President Asks Citizens to Pray for Mandela

The South African government says former president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela continues to recover from a lung infection, but his condition remains serious.

In a statement Thursday, President Jacob Zuma appealed to the people of South Africa and beyond to keep Madiba -- Mandela's clan name -- in their prayers.  

He also said the country "should not create a superficial image of Mandela" but remember his lifetime of work.

"They must love Madiba, the volunteer-in-chief of the defiance campaign of 1952, Madiba as the commander in chief, Madiba the revolutionary, Madiba the long serving prisoner," Zuma urged.

The 94-year-old icon remains hospitalized in Pretoria in serious but stable condition.  This is his fourth such hospitalization since December.

Well-wishers continued to arrive with flowers and gifts for Mandela at his home in Johannesburg.

"The seven colors of the rainbow that they chose signify the rainbow nation," explained a resident who came to pay his respects. "So the balloons are there to tell him we are praying for him. We are thinking of him and we hope that he has a speedy recovery.''

Mandela has a history of lung problems dating back to the tuberculosis he contracted during his 27-year imprisonment under South Africa's apartheid system.  He was released in 1990, and four years later was elected president in the country's first democratic polls.