South Africa waits after Mandela’s condition worsens

A well-wisher carries a portrait of former South African President Nelson Mandela outside the Pretoria hospital where former President Mandela is being treated, June 26, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Two men in South Africa read about Nelson Mandela’s condition in a local paper. Credit: Reuters

South Africans prepared Thursday to say farewell to ailing anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela after his condition deteriorated further, forcing President Jacob Zuma to cancel a trip to neighboring Mozambique.

Zuma was due to attend a summit in Maputo of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to discuss regional infrastructure, but pulled out after visiting the 94-year-old former president in the hospital late Wednesday.

“Over the past 48 hours, the condition of former president Madiba has gone down,” presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj told state broadcaster SABC, using the clan name by which Mandela is affectionately known.

Maharaj said Mandela’s condition remained critical. He declined to comment on media reports that he was on life support in the Pretoria hospital where he is being treated for a lung infection, saying his privacy should be respected.

Mandela has already spent 20 days in the hospital, his fourth hospitalization in six months.

This has forced a growing realization among South Africans that the man regarded as the father of their post-apartheid “Rainbow Nation” will not be among them for ever.

“Mandela is very old and at that age, life is not good. I just pray that God takes him this time. He must go. He must rest,” said Ida Mashego, a 60-year-old office cleaner in Johannesburg’s Sandton financial district.

Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, is admired around the world as a symbol of resistance to injustice for the way he opposed his country’s apartheid system, spending 27 years in jail, more than half of them on notorious Robben Island.

He is also respected for the way he preached reconciliation after the 1994 transition to multiracial democracy following three centuries of white domination.

‘Celebrating his life’

President Barack Obama is due to visit South Africa this weekend as part of a three-nation Africa tour he has already started in Senegal. Maharaj said it was too early to say whether Obama’s schedule in Johannesburg and Cape Town on Saturday and Sunday might be affected by Mandela’s worsening condition.

Well-wishers’ messages, bouquets and stuffed animals have piled up outside Mandela’s Johannesburg home and the wall of the hospital compound where he is being treated in the capital.

As they headed to work Thursday, South Africans seemed resigned to the prospect of losing their hero.

“We are all going to feel bad when he passes, but at the same time we will be celebrating his life. He has done so many great things for this country,” said John Ndlovu, a 25-year-old office worker.

Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one five-year term in office.

Since then he has played little role in public life, dividing his time in retirement between his home in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb of Houghton and Qunu, the village in the impoverished Eastern Cape province where he was born.

The public’s last glimpse of him was a brief clip aired by state television in April during a visit to his home by Zuma and other senior officials from the ruling African National Congress.

At the time, the 101-year-old liberation movement assured the public Mandela was “in good shape,” although the footage showed a thin and frail old man sitting expressionless in an armchair.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.