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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs