According to news reports at press time, Nelson Mandela was on life support and was surrounded by his family. At 94 years young, former South African president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela remains in Pretoria’s Mediclinic Heart Hospital for a recurring lung problem.
South African President Jacob Zuma said earlier this week that Mandela’s condition was still critical.
In a statement, hospital spokesman Mac Maharaj said, “Mandela’s condition remains unchanged in the hospital, and doctors continue to do their best to ensure his recovery, well-being and comfort.”
In the spirit of giving a person flowers while they can still smell them, activists, politicians and admirers of Mandela, who’s also affectionately known as “Madiba”, want their thoughts to be known.
“I had the privilege of meeting President Mandela upon his first visit to New York after his release from the South African prison,” said Terrie M. Williams, author and founder of the Stay Strong Foundation. “I was fortunate and blessed to be a part of the team that facilitated his visit for Mayor Dinkins’ office. I will never forget his majestic presence. I believe his spirit will be among us here on earth forever, and if we can quiet our inner turmoil long enough, we can be guided by his wisdom and strength—always … always.”
The world held its collective breath when the hospital announced that after Mandela had been hospitalized for three weeks, his condition had deteriorated on Sunday evening.
Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, visited the former president at the Pretoria hospital on Wednesday.
Also visiting were their daughters, Makaziwe Mandela and Zindzi Mandela, and grandchildren Ndaba Mandela and Ndileka Mandela.
Mandela’s grandson Ndaba Mandela said last week that while the family appreciates all the tireless work the former activist-turned-president has done in his close to a century of living, they, like so many others, do not really want to think about him making his transition.
South African media reported that last week, longtime friend Andrew Mlangeni asked Mandela’s family to “release him” so that “God may have His own way.”
Grandson Ndaba responded that, “Only God can take him … but for us, as family, as long as he can still hear and understand what is said to him, and talk to us, we’ll continue to celebrate him.”
The African press reported Tuesday that close relatives of Mandela’s and chiefs of the Abathembu royal family gathered at his home in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, invited by his children, Mandla Mandela, Thanduxolo Mandela, Ndaba and Ndileka.
During this strange and awkward time period, anxious observers all over the globe are sharing their Mandela recollections.
“Mandela, aka endearingly Madiba, is seemingly nearing his own finish line. Selfishly, we want to keep him from completing his race in record time,” said New York writer Op Ed. “But he, as well as others, have already laid their brick to form a foundation to build on, and the foundation is cement mixed with blood, sweat, tears that has congealed over the years. They’ve reached their finish line long ago, because the race is a relay race—a human race someone started but that Madiba is not responsible for anchoring. Apartheid is done, Berlin Walls have been torn down, so now the baton should no longer be within the hands of those whose race has already been run; they relatively won. “
Professor Sam Anderson has very deep memories of his work to bring the former leader of the African National Congress to New York City on June 20-22, 1990. “I first learned of Nelson Mandela when I was a sophomore at Lincoln University in 1963,” Anderson told the AmNews.“Then, Lincoln U. was not only a hotbed of civil rights activism, but thanks to the former Black President Horace Mann Bond, a place where a small number of African male students would be part of our Lincoln student population.
“To make a very long story short, as a teen, it was my friendship with South African and Namibian [then called Southwest Africa] student-activists/refugees that I first learned of Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress. From then, I was committed to help in destroying the ‘other segregation system’ called apartheid and the freeing of Nelson Mandela.
His powerful words and persona became a beacon of encouragement and hope for our unfolding Black Liberation Movement inside the U.S. and an inspiration to push for a militant Pan-African force to help rid Africa of all forms of Europe’s colonization.
“Brother Mandela was a living icon for me and tens of thousands of other young activist Blackfolk. He became the invisible subtext—yet vital—part of the Black Panther Party, the Republic of New Africa, the Black Studies Movement and popular Black culture. He was born and struggled in South Africa, but Brother Mandela—attributes and faults and all—is a revolutionary inspiration to all of Africa and its Diaspora to continue to struggle for a truly Democratic United States of Africa and freedom, democracy, peace and justice throughout Africa’s Diaspora.”
Anderson concluded, “Like Brother Malcolm X, el Hajj Malik El Shabazz, Nelson Mandela will always be remembered in every nook and cranny of Planet Earth, because we will make it so!”