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Nelson Mandela's Health is 'Critical but Stable,' World Celebrates His 95th Birthday Thursday

( [email protected] ) Jul 16, 2013 01:30 AM EDT
Nelson Mandela, who overcame 27 years in jail to become South Africa’s first black president and bring an end to decades of whites-only rule, might be discharged from hospital in time to spend his 95th birthday this Thursday at home after official update last week said his health has recently improved.
A young member of the Maitibolo Cultural Troupe poses in front of a photograph of Nelson Mandela outside the Medi Clinic Heart Hospital, where the anti-apartheid icon is admitted. AFP

Update: South African President Jacob Zuma visited Nelson Mandela in the hospital Thursday morning when Madiba turns 95 years old. Upon the visitation, Zuma released a statement confirming that the anti-apartheid icon and "Father of the Nation" is "steadily" improving in his health. It is the first time since Mandela's admission to the hospital that the word "critical" was not used to describe his condition.

Zindi Mandela, daughter of Mandela, has told British television on Wednesday that his father’s health has made a “dramatic” progress on the eve of his 95th birthday. The fighter for equal rights and democracy and the icon of reconciliation is watching television with headphones in his Pretoria hospital bed and that he smiles at family members and raises his hand.

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Nelson Mandela, who overcame 27 years in jail to become South Africa’s first black president and bring an end to decades of whites-only rule, might be discharged from hospital in time to spend his 95th birthday this Thursday at home after official update last week said his health has recently improved.

In early June, Mandela, who served humanity in 67 years of service, was hospitalized from recurring lung infections he first developed during the 27 years he spent in prison during the country’s apartheid era.

Grandson Ndaba Mandela, 30, told The Sun that Mandela was doing well despite still being on a life-support machine to help him breathe.

“He has the heart of a man ten years young,” Mbeki said over the weekend at a memorial service. He also noted the doctor is allowing his grandfather to return home.

Just little less than a month ago, his family claimed in court document dated June 26 that Mandela is in a “vegetative state,” which the presidency has denied. The last official update last week said he was critical but stable and was responding to treatment, confirmed by comments from family and friends.

Church groups, families, even a motorcycle club assembled in front of the Pretoria hospital, according to NPR. Bouquets of flowers, a Bible, portraits of Mandela, and candles were placed in front of a wall plastered with hundreds of mementos of Mandela, many of them addressed to “Mandiba,” Mandela’s clan name, or “tata,” which means “father” in his native tongue, Xhosa, according to NPR.

For more than a month now, throngs of well-wishers have gathered outside the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, praying for the health recovery of the former President.


A well-wisher is reflected in the glass of a photograph left outside the hospital where ailing former President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, July 16, 2013. Mandela turns 95 on July 18. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings


A wellwisher places a picture outside the hospital where ailing former President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, July 11, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

The United Nations in 2010 declared the Nobel peace laureate’s birthday Mandela Day – a day to encourage people around the world to do 67 minutes of good deeds.

“This year’s commemoration comes at a sensitive time for President Mandela and his family,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message for the day.

“As we extend our best wishes to them, we can give greater meaning to our sentiments by taking action on behalf of others. This is the best tribute we can pay to an extraordinary man who continues to inspire the world through his example of courage, compassion and commitment to justice for all.”

Every year on July 18, individuals around the world are encouraged to devote 67 minutes to helping others through social services, such as volunteer, providing food, etc.

In South Africa, children in schools around South Africa will start their classes singing “Happy Birthday” to the former statesman, according to NPR.

In the United States, 17 cities have planned various activities on Thursday, according to NPR. Mandela’s life has been a source of inspiration for black people in America and around the world.

Born in July 18 in 1918, Mandela was convicted of treason in 1964 when he was a human rights lawyer and spent the next 27 years in jail. After his release he negotiated with the apartheid minority government to end whites-only rule.

He became South Africa’s first black president after all-race elections in 1994 and led reconciliation in the deeply divided country. His peace-making spirit has won him worldwide respect.

“Never before in history was one human being so universally acknowledged in his lifetime as the embodiment of magnanimity and reconciliation as Nelson Mandela,” said archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, who is also a Nobel peace laureate.

Ernie Els, defending British Open golf champion and South African sporting legend, said it would be “wonderful” if a South African player could win this week and give his sports-mad nation a much-needed morale boost, according to AP.

"Obviously sport has been a key factor in bringing South Africa together into a democratic place and state," Els said on Monday, according to AP. "And President Mandela played such a big part in that also back in the early '90s, and the World Cup and soccer, African Nations Cup."

Els is one of 10 South Africans competing at Muirfield, along with Thomas Aiken, Richard Sterne, Tim Clark, George Coetzee, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Harding and Darryn Lloyd.