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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid