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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs