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

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

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?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid