Mandela battles for life, well-wishers flock to hospital
Pretoria: There was no word on Friday about the condition of Nelson Mandela who is battling for his life at a hospital here as his countrymen continued to pray for the speedy recovery of the 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero.
The medical condition of Mandela, South Africa`s first black president, has improved slightly from an earlier "critical" state, the country`s Presidency said on Thusrday.
Mandela, who turns 95 on July 18, has been admitted to a hospital here on June 8 with a recurring lung infection.
Mandela`s "condition has improved during the course of the night," South African President Jacob Zuma had said after visiting him in the Mediclinic Heart Hospital.
Meanwhile, Mandela`s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela said today that the democracy icon is showing a "great improvement" in his health, but was still "unwell."
"From what he was a few days ago, there is great improvement, but clinically he is still unwell," she told reporters in Soweto, the couple`s old home.
Well-wishers are continuing to gather outside the hospital where Mandela, regarded the founding father of South Africa`s multiracial democracy, was admitted 21 days ago.
They have been singing and saying prayers outside the hospital and at Soweto former home of Mandela, who is revered across the globe as a symbol of resistance against injustice.
South African children released 94 balloons - one for every year of Mandela`s life - into the air in his honour.
Mandela had a long history of lung problems, dating back to the time when he was a political prisoner on Robben Island during apartheid. While in jail he contracted tuberculosis.
Mandela is revered for leading the fight against white minority rule in the African country and then preaching reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years.
Mandela served as the country`s first black president from 1994 to 1999.He left power after five years as president.
Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
He retired from public life in 2004 and has not been seen in public since the football World Cup finals in in 2010.
Ahead of US President Barack Obama`s arrival, South Africans staged a protest against his "arrogant, selfish and oppressive" foreign policy.
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