Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa and political prisoner, was flown to hospital on Saturday after concerns over his health included an inability to speak.
Air lifted from his rural home in Qunu, on the Eastern Cape, Mandela was rushed to the capital Pretoria, for hospital treatment and testing.
Plagued by minor illnesses in his latter years, Mandela, 94, was last taken to hospital in February, where he was said to have received ‘routine tests,’ while actually undergoing surgery for abdominal pain. Mandela was also admitted to hospital in January of last year for a serious respiratory infection.
The imposed privacy surrounding Mandela’s hospitalisation has caused many of his supporters in South Africa to fear for the worst. However, spokesman Mac Maharaj reported that Mr Mandela looked ‘comfortable,’ showing ‘no cause for alarm.’
After a visit from President Jacob Zuma, it was also reported that Mandela was ‘looking well after a restful night.’
As we wait for news of Mandela’s discharge from hospital, all eyes will be on home in Qunu, the village near where he was born, with a mixture of Bantu and Afrikaans language speaking citizens waiting to wish the anti-apartheid hero a welcome home.
The Nobel Peace Price winner was imprisoned for 27 years by an apartheid government, after campaigning for equality under a minority white government. Prayer sessions are being held throughout South Africa in this period, for a much loved, and revered symbol of freedom and resistance against segregation in South Africa.
Referring to Mandela using his Xhosa clan name, Maharaj added:
“[We want to] avoid news about Madiba’s health being treated as if it is the movement of share prices on the stock market.”
The President’s office ensured South Africans that the treatment received by Mr Mandela ‘from time to time,’ was ‘consistent with his age.’
Since his last public appearance at the World Cup in 2010, Nelson Mandela’s condition has been described as frail, but while his memory fades slightly, he is reported to be ‘in good spirits.’