The reality of a passing on Nelson Mandela is gradually sinking in the mind of most South Africans as the former President, who rose from grace to grace fighting apartheid to submission is on the verge of his final and everlasting exit to the world beyond.
South African President Jacob Zuma cancelled a trip to Mozambique after visiting the former leader Wednesday evening, leading to increased fears that the former president approached his final days.
Zuma visited Mandela at around 10 p.m. local time in hospital in Pretoria, where reports Wednesday suggested the 95-year-old is on life support. Mandela has been at the hospital since June 8 after being taken there to be treated for a lung infection.
Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj would not comment on the reports that Mandela was put on a support machine
South Africans lit candles outside the hospital where anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela lay Wednesday night as an official who had been briefed in detail on his condition reported the former president was on life support.
As the nation remained on the edge of a patiently unfolding development, , police barricaded the street leading to the hospital’s main entrance. Well-wishers hung balloons, stuffed animals and messages of support along the wall, and crowds hovering nearby were cahnting “Where is Mandela?”
“We need you!,” one sign read. “We love you tata, get well soon!” said another, referring to Mandela by the Xhosa word for father. Someone else left a stone upon which was written, “Sending you light and love.”
Several members of the family came out to collect some of those items Wednesday.
“He’s going to feel a lot better when he sees these signs,” said David Manaway, Mandela’s grandson-in-law.
Mandela’s former physician and the nation’s ex-surgeon general, Dr. Vejay Ramlakan, also visited the hospital Wednesday, said the national news agency, South African Press Association.
US President Barack Obama on Wednesday embarked on his first major tour of Africa that comes at a poignant moment, just as the world prepares to bid a reluctant farewell to Nelson Mandela.
The possibility that the critically ill anti-apartheid icon could fade away within days has sparked uncertainty about Obama’s itinerary, which is due to take him to Africa’s francophone west, democratic east and its southern tip.
Plans to visit Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania over the next week could be complicated, shifting the focus of a trip meant to ease the disappointment of Africans who saw expectations for Obama’s presidency fall short.
The White House has said that it will defer to Mandela’s family on whether the president would visit his ailing 94-year-old political hero in the Pretoria hospital where he has been for nearly three weeks.
The Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, visited Mandela in hospital on Tuesday, and said a prayer for a “peaceful, perfect end” for the former president.
Makgoba told The Associated Press that: “We just want him to be peacefully released, whatever he’s feeling at this moment, and to be reunited with his Maker at the perfect time, when God so wills.”
Considered the founding father of South Africa’s multiracial democracy, the 94-year-old Mandela has been hospitalized since June 8 for a recurring lung infection.
Mandela became an international figure while enduring 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid, the country’s system of racial segregation. He was elected the nation’s first black president in 1994, four years after he was freed.
Throughout the night, crowds of people stood outside the hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated, and among the balloons, posters and cards early Tuesday were dozens of news crews and broadcast vans.
More than 40 vehicles crowded the parking spaces outside the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, the South African Press Association reported. Generators hummed and the area was brightly lit for the news organizations doing regular live broadcasts.
Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe Mandela left the hospital Monday night, SAPA reported. Other family members, including ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and daughters Zindzi Mandela-Motlhajwa and Zenani Mandela-Dlamini, left earlier in the day.
Government officials paid visits as well.
Internationally,the former President’s admirers continue to hold vigil, praying for Mandela’s recovery and for God to grant him more years on the earth.
In the United Arab Emirate fervent prayers are eing held for Mandela.
As the 94-year-old battles for life at the Mediclinic Hospital in Pretoria, the community is united in wishing him well.
But amid the groundswell of prayers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the community is filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and pride. “He is larger than life. I don’t think you will come across anyone with so much compassion or forgiveness in a lifetime. He is an incredibly special person,” said Peter, a South African resident who has been in Dubai for three years.
Having just watched a television documentary called The 16th Man, Peter said Mandela, a prisoner for 27 years, united the blacks and whites like never before in the 1995 World Cup rugby tournament, a year after the historic elections. Dressed in a Springbok uniform for the finals, Mandela was the team’s 16th man in a game pitched against New Zealand.
Jean Pierre, a Dubai-based financial controller, said: “Mandela made a revolutionary change to South Africa and not only opened the eyes of the black people but also a whole new generation of whites like myself.”
Pietie Loubser, a Dubai resident, said: “Mandela is a global icon and the greatest South African who has ever lived. He had the ability to walk out of prison after 27 years and preach peace, democracy and a new tomorrow. He made us proud for what he stands for. We will always respect him for his selfless leadership.”
South Africans in Abu Dhabi recalled how Mandela had made a birthday wish two years ago for people to donate 67 minutes each to the good of the community to mark his 67 years as a freedom fighter. Accordingly, the community honoured men and women who answered his call with the launch of a book titled 67 Inspiring Stories.