nelson mandela death, anc, jacob zuma, south africa
Former South African president Nelson Mandela remains in a critical condition in hospital, his death would bring great sadness to millions across the world as he has been viewed as a man who stood up for the rights of others.
“Doctors are doing everything possible to ensure his wellbeing and comfort,” President Jaco Zuma told a news conference in Johannesburg.
He declined to answer specific questions about Mr Mandela’s condition, saying he had no further information.
Mr Mandela is being treated for a recurrence of a lung infection.
Last night was the first time the word critical was used by the South African government in describing his health.
Mr Zuma broke the news after visiting Mr Mandela in hospital yesterday evening.
He was told by doctors “that the former president’s condition had become critical over the past 24 hours”.
Mr Zuma said the 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon was “in good hands”.
Mr Zuma last night met Graca Machel, Mr Mandela’s wife, at the hospital in Pretoria and discussed the former leader’s condition.
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said the Mandela family is going through a stressful time.
He said: “We want to assure the public that doctors are working away to try and get his condition to improve. Let us keep our fingers crossed.
“Let’s hope that he is able to improve, but at the same time let us appreciate that it is critical.”
Mr Mandela has suffered repeated bouts of illness in recent months and has been admitted to hospital four times since December.
He has been in intensive care since he was last admitted to hospital on 8 June.
Mr Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe said the family was taking each day as it came and enjoying as much time as possible with a man who, to them, is simply a father, grandfather or great-grandfather.
“He is at peace with himself,” she told CNN. “He has given so much to the world. I believe he is at peace.”
Since stepping down in 1999 after one term as president, Mr Mandela has stayed out of active politics.
His last public appearance was waving to fans from the back of a golf cart before the final of the soccer World Cup in Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium in July 2010.
During his retirement, he has divided his time between his home in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, and Qunu, the village in the poor Eastern Cape province where he was born.
The public’s last glimpse of him was a brief clip aired by state television in April during a visit to his home by Mr Zuma and other senior ANC officials.
Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in Mveso, Transkei, South Africa. Becoming actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement in his 20s, Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1942. For 20 years, he directed a campaign of peaceful, non-violent defiance against the South African government and its racist policies. In 1993,
“I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days.”
Mandela and South African President F.W. de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to dismantle the country’s apartheid system. In 1994, Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president. In 2009, Mandela’s birthday (July 18) was declared Mandela Day to promote global peace and celebrate the South African leader’s legacy.
Nelson Mandela was born Rolihlahla Mandela on July 18, 1918, in the tiny village of Mvezo, on the banks of the Mbashe River in Transkei, South Africa. “Rolihlahla” in the Xhosa language literally means “pulling the branch of a tree,” but more commonly translates as “troublemaker.”
Nelson Mandela’s father, who was destined to be a chief, served as a counselor to tribal chiefs for several years, but lost both his title and fortune over a dispute with the local colonial magistrate. Mandela was only an infant at the time, and his father’s loss of status forced his mother to move the family to Qunu, an even smaller village north of Mvezo. The village was nestled in a narrow grassy valley; there were no roads, only foot paths that linked the pastures where livestock grazed. The family lived in huts and ate a local harvest of maize, sorghum, pumpkin and beans, which was all they could afford. Water came from springs and streams and cooking was done outdoors. Mandela played the games of young boys, acting out male rights-of-passage scenarios with toys he made from the natural materials available, including tree branches and clay.
At the suggestion of one of his father’s friends, Mandela was baptized in the Methodist Church. He went on to become the first in his family to attend school. As was custom at the time, and probably due to the bias of the British educational system in South Africa, Mandela’s teacher told him that his new first name would be Nelson.
When Mandela was 9 years old, his father died of lung disease, causing his life to change dramatically. He was adopted by Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, the acting regent of the Thembu people—a gesture done as a favor to Mandela’s father, who, years earlier, had recommended Jongintaba be made chief. Mandela subsequently left the carefree life he knew in Qunu, fearing that he would never see his village again. He traveled by motorcar to Mqhekezweni, the provincial capital of Thembuland, to the chief’s royal residence. Though he had not forgotten his beloved village of Qunu, he quickly adapted to the new, more sophisticated surroundings of Mqhekezweni.
Mandela was given the same status and responsibilities as the regent’s two other children, his son and oldest child, Justice, and daughter Nomafu.