News / Africa

S. African President Asks Citizens to Pray for Mandela

  • Nelson Mandela smiles for photographers at his home in Johannesburg September 22, 2005.
  • Nelson Mandela and his then wife, Winnie, salute well-wishers as he leaves Victor Verster prison on Feb. 11, 1990.
  • This undated photograph shows Nelson Mandela and his former wife, Winnie.
  • South African State President Frederik Willem de Klerk and Deputy President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela prior to talks, Cape Town, May 2, 1990.
  • Nelson Mandela, is seen as he gives the black power salute to 120,000 ANC supporters in Soweto's Soccer City stadium, Feb. 13, 1990.
  • Then-African National Congress President Nelson Mandela salutes the crowd in Galeshewe Stadium near Kimberley, South Africa, Feb. 25, 1994.
  • Nelson Mandela and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II ride in a carriage outside Buckingham Palace on the first day of a state visit to Britain, July 9, 1996.
  • President Nelson Mandela and Britain's Prince Charles shake hands alongside members of the Spice Girls, Nov. 1, 1997.
  • Former U.S President Bill Clinton and former South African President Nelson Mandela speak during a Gala night in Westminster Hall, London, July 2, 2003.
  • Oscar winning South African actress Charlize Theron weeps at her meeting with former South African President Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, March 11,2004.
  • Nelson Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, wave to the audience during a Live 8 concert in Johannesburg, July 2, 2005.
  • Nelson Mandela jokes with youngsters as they celebrate his 89th birthday at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in Johannesburg, July 24, 2007.
  • Former South African president Nelson Mandela, center, followed by his grandson Mandla Mandela, rear right, arrives at the ceremony in Mvezo, South Africa, April 16, 2007.
  • Nelson Mandela waves to the media as he arrives outside 10 Downing Street, London, August 28, 2007.
  • Nelson Mandela waves as he arrives to attend the 2010 World Cup football final Netherlands vs. Spain on July 11, 2010 at Soccer City stadium in Soweto.
  • Nelson Mandela poses for a photograph after receiving a torch to celebrate the African National Congress' centenary in his home village Qunu, May 30, 2012.
Nelson 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.

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