News / Africa

Mandela Hospitalization Worries South Africans

A banner advertises gold coins with the image of former South African President Nelson Mandela, Johannesburg, December 9, 2012.
A banner advertises gold coins with the image of former South African President Nelson Mandela, Johannesburg, December 9, 2012.
Anita Powell
Nelson Mandela’s second hospitalization this year has raised concerns among South Africans and around the world about the future despite government assurances that the hospitalization is for routine tests. President Zuma said Sunday the former leader was “comfortable” and in good spirits, but South Africans are worried about their beloved former president.

Nelson Mandela wrote about feeling, upon his release from prison, that he had failed to be there for his own children and grandchildren. Instead, he wrote, his decades-long struggle against apartheid had turned him into the father of his nation.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela as he celebrates his birthday with family in Qunu, South Africa, July 18, 2012.Former South African President Nelson Mandela as he celebrates his birthday with family in Qunu, South Africa, July 18, 2012.
x
Former South African President Nelson Mandela as he celebrates his birthday with family in Qunu, South Africa, July 18, 2012.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela as he celebrates his birthday with family in Qunu, South Africa, July 18, 2012.
That became clear this weekend as news of his Saturday hospitalization spread and the Internet buzzed with virtual get-well cards from luminaries, journalists and ordinary South Africans.

Mandela spent Saturday night in the hospital and appeared “comfortable and in good care” on Sunday morning, said President Jacob Zuma.

Still, the get-well wishes keep coming.

Congregants packed Soweto’s landmark Regina Mundi church on Sunday to pray for him.

Chelsea Clinton tweeted Saturday night: “Thinking of Madiba and the entire Mandela family - hope Madiba comes home soon.”

Like many South Africans, Clinton used Mandela’s clan name, Madiba, which is a sign of respect. Many South Africans just call him Tata, the Xhosa word for father.

Little is known about Mandela’s condition or his prognosis. Mac Maharaj, a spokesman for the presidency who also spent years alongside Mandela at the infamous Robben Island prison, gave few details, citing patient confidentiality. He would not say what Mr. Mandela’s prognosis was or how long he might remain in the hospital.

Maharaj, who spoke to VOA shortly after arriving in the southeastern coastal city of Durban, said he accompanied Zuma on the Sunday morning hospital visit in Pretoria.

He said the former president appeared well, and urged the world to not worry and to respect his privacy.

“I believe not just South Africans but millions throughout the world will be praying for Madiba, and we are appealing to people to respect his privacy. We want his treatment to be unimpeded, to be done under the least stressful conditions, and for the doctors to have a free hand to attend to him. I’m sure everybody wishes that for him.”

On the streets of Johannesburg’s gritty inner-city Hillbrow neighborhood, 33-year-old businesswoman Sharon Zinhle said she is worried about the former leader’s health. She says he brought many positive changes to her life and to the country, and said that since he left office governance has deteriorated.

“It’s really bad, it’s really bad. Because if we lose him, hey, we don’t know what’s going to happen to this country, really. During the times of Madiba there was no corruption, I think so, there was no corruption But with this new, ah, the corruption, is too much.”

Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in prison for leading the fight against apartheid. He shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with former President F.W. De Klerk for engineering an end to apartheid.

Mandela served only one term as president and retired from public life in 2004, telling the next generation, “it’s in your hands.” He has since carefully tried to avoid cultivating a cult of personality - with little success. Last month, the government put his face on its bank notes.

It is clear South Africans are not ready to let go of their icon. Many feel they have not had enough time with him. After all, Mandela spent much of his adult life in prison, denied access to the world and with few visits even from his family.

In Hillbrow and across town in the sprawling Soweto townships, South Africans prayed for his recovery, as they would for their own grandfather.  

For Sibusiso Mangena, a 28-year-old gardener, that’s what Mandela feels like. “He’s a family member. He’s a big family member. He did a lot for us. He gave us freedom, no fighting. We are just cool for him, you see,” said Mangena.

On the streets of Johannesburg, the message was unanimous: Get well, Tata, get well.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ushara from: London
December 09, 2012 10:19 PM
Alarm at his hospitalization? The man is 94 years old. He is not going to live forever. I hope he does recover, but we shouldn't be shocked when we finally hear of his passing.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs