News / Africa

    Mandela's Ailing Health Overshadows Obama S. Africa Visit

    Well-wishers gather in support of ailing former South African President Nelson Mandela outside his former home in Soweto June 27, 2013.
    Well-wishers gather in support of ailing former South African President Nelson Mandela outside his former home in Soweto June 27, 2013.
    Anita Powell
    South Africa on Friday readied itself for a much-anticipated visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, though the visit has been overshadowed by the declining health of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.  The former president has remained in critical condition for six days at a Pretoria hospital, prompting an outpouring of support.
     
    An all-night vigil outside Mandela’s hospital mushroomed Thursday night, as visitors poured in to light candles and pray for the health of the former president.  The concern for Mandela, 94, overshadows another major event in South Africa: the Friday night arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama.
     
    For him, too, a bevy of grand events are planned: several bilateral meetings, speeches, a state dinner, and a visit to Robben Island where Mandela spent nearly two decades in prison.  Protesters also plan to greet the U.S. president Saturday morning with their objections to his visit -- one main protest group said it opposes Obama's foreign and military policies.  
     
    But many South Africans have expressed support for the American president, saying they see something of their beloved leader in Obama.  Both men were the first black president of their country, and both were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

    South African presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj said it is uncertain whether  Obama will visit Mandela -- whom he refers to by his clan name, Madiba.
     
    “Essentially, it is a matter that we do not regulate the visits to Madiba.  Those are matters that are handled by the family," Maharaj explained.  "But I did see statements from the United States that they would not be pressing for that, they would be guided by the family and the health interests of Madiba.  So that’s where the matter stands, and it depends, really, on circumstances.” 
     
    Maharaj added that the nation was excited about Obama’s visit, as the U.S. is one of South Africa’s top trade partners and a valued ally.
     
    • Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, holds a candle during a prayer service for the ailing Mandela at a church in Johannesburg, July 5, 2013. 
    • Ndaba Mandela (R), one of former South African President Nelson Mandela's grandsons, and an unidentified companion leave the Mediclinic Heart Hospital, where the former president is being treated, in Pretoria, July 5, 2013. 
    • Well-wishers pray in support of ailing former South African President Nelson Mandela in front of the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where he is being treated in Pretoria, July 5, 2013.
    • Daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, leaves after visiting the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, July 5, 2013. 
    • Well-wishers post messages outside the hospital where ailing former President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, July 5, 2013. 
    • A well-wisher weeps as he pays his respects outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital, where ailing former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, July 1, 2013.
    • Boys hold a candle as they pay their respects outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital, where ailing former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, July 1, 2013.
    • Men stand next to a banner covered with portraits of Nelson Mandela to a wall outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, June 28, 2013.
    • A well-wisher pays respect to ailing former South African President Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, June 27, 2013.
    • Granddaughters Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Tukwini Mandela are surrounded by the media outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, June 27, 2013.
    • Children release 95 white balloons to mark the upcoming birthday of ailing former South African President Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, June 27, 2013.

    But throughout, the fate of the visit has hinged on Mandela's condition.  His daughter told the state broadcaster on Thursday that “anything is imminent” with regard to her father’s health.  He was admitted to the Pretoria hospital on June 8 for a lung infection.  On Sunday, he fell into critical condition, where he remains.
     
    The ruling African National Congress said they would start holding daily prayer sessions for Mandela.  Spokesman Keith Khoza said the party urged people to pray for his full recovery.
     
    The ANC’s mark was also all over the visitors at Thursday’s hospital vigil.  Many wore ANC shirts.  The ANC faces national elections next year.
     
    Maharaj, who is also an ANC member, said the confluence of party and personality is not unusual or wrong -- after all, he said, Mandela was the party’s first leader to serve as South African president, and Mandela has reiterated his undying loyalty to the party.
     
    Mmusi Maimane, a spokesman for the largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said they would not make Mandela’s ailing health into a political issue.
     
    “We like, any other South African, are concerned first and foremost about Nelson Mandela’s health," Maimane said.  "And that is our focus … our thoughts are with his family.  And at best, that is what we are focusing on and on nothing else.”
     
    And so, ultimately, is the world.  Well-wishers have sent letters and tweets from around the world, the piles of flowers are growing, and the world waits, again, for news on Mandela.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Sue Glee from: KY US
    June 28, 2013 9:32 AM
    Nelson Mandela/Madiba will always be remembered as a great man. As his beloved people pray for his full recovery, may they also know that when it is God's will, Madiba will be eternally present with the saints in Heaven and known for his loving spirit. May we all learn how to love one another and learn through his example as Jesus, our Savior teaches all of us. Thank you, Madiba for all you have done through peaceful resolution. God blesses us with your presence forevermore.

    by: Brian from: canada
    June 28, 2013 9:26 AM
    what Obama has to offer ,South Africa does not need nor want.
    In Response

    by: Motshubi from: Johannesburg, South Afric
    July 01, 2013 2:45 AM
    How do you know, what SA wants or need? Are you holding any mandate for SA?

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora