Nelson Mandela, the father of black rule in South Africa, has been in the hospital several times in recent months with breathing problems from a recurrent lung infection and pneumonia. He is 94, with a birthday due July 18. The South African Mail and Guardian reported: “The condition of former President Nelson Mandela, who is still in hospital in Pretoria, has become critical,” presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement.
President Jacob Zuma and African National Congress (ANC) Deputy President Cyril Ramaphose visited Mandela Sunday evening. “They were briefed by the medical team who informed them that the former president’s condition had become critical over the past 24 hours.”
The Afrikaans-language Beeld newspaper said: The president and Ramaphosa were at the hospital talking with Mandela’s wife, to Graca Machel Mandela’s about his condition. President Obama is scheduled to visit South Africa during a visit to the continent this week. His office has made clear he will not ask to see the ailing Mandela unless South Africa authorities think it is a good idea. Obama is due to arrive on Friday. Should Mandela die in the meantime, Obama likely would be invited to attend the funeral of the fellow Nobel Prize winner.
As an observer, who spent five years reporting on the anti-apartheid struggle for the Associated Press, the most noteworthy thing about Mandela, and tendancy that made him most like America’s Abraham Lincoln, was his refusal to let vengeance take control of him.