Zee Media Bureau
Johannesburg: As former South African president Nelson Mandela spends tenth day in the hospital, wife Graca Machel thanked the people from the country and across the world for the messages of comfort and hope.
Mandela is receiving treatment for a recurring lung infection and it is the third time he has been admitted to the hospital this year raising his health concerns.
Machel has already experienced the loss of a husband. Mozambican President Samora Machel, her first husband, died in a plane crash in 1986. Machel and Mandela married in 1998, marking Mandela`s third marriage and her second.
People have carried "get well soon" placards outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria where Mandela is being treated. They have prayed for him in churches across this nation of roughly 50 million. Schoolchildren have come to his home in Johannesburg to sing. Even though he was not there to hear them, the voices gave solace to his family.
"The messages have come by letter, by SMS, by phone, by Twitter, by Facebook, by email, cards, flowers and the human voice, in particular the voices of children in schools or singing outside our home," Machel said in a statement. "We have felt the closeness of the world and the deepest meaning of strength and peace."
President Jacob Zuma said Sunday that Mandela remains in serious condition but that his doctors are seeing sustained improvements. Zuma said Mandela is engaging with family during visits.
The leader of South Africa`s anti-apartheid movement, Mandela spent 27 years in prison during white racist rule. He is vulnerable to respiratory problems since contracting tuberculosis during his long imprisonment. The bulk of that period was spent on Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town where Mandela and other prisoners toiled in a dusty stone quarry.
He was freed in 1990 and became South Africa`s first black president in 1994.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate divorced his second wife, Winnie, in 1996. However in recent years she has joined him and Machel at family events. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has been a frequent visitor to Mandela during his latest hospitalization. This marks Mandela`s fourth hospital stay since December.
Mandela "once said: `What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made in the lives of others,`" Machel said. "I have thought of his words on each occasion the world stood with him, making a difference to him, in his healing."
(With agency inputs)