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Mandela spends second night in hospital for lung infection

By Reuters in Johannesburg | China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-30 07:54

 Mandela spends second night in hospital for lung infection

Former South African president Nelson Mandela has received well wishes from global leaders after he was admitted to a hospital on Wednesday. Barbara Kinney / AFP

Nelson Mandela spent a second night in a hospital receiving treatment for a lung infection while the South African government sought to reassure the nation about the health of its first black president and hero of the anti-apartheid struggle.

The 94-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate received well wishes from global figures, including US President Barack Obama, after he was admitted to the hospital before midnight on Wednesday, his third stint in a hospital in four months.

The government said on Thursday that he was responding well to treatment but had no new updates on his condition as of Friday morning.

Current President Jacob Zuma urged the nation to remain calm and has asked people across South Africa and the world to pray for him.

"Of course, I have been saying to people: You should bear in mind Madiba is no longer that young. And if he goes for checkups every now and again, I don't think people must be alarmed about it. The country must not panic," Zuma told the BBC on Thursday.

Madiba is the clan name by which many South Africans refer to Mandela.

Mandela has been mostly absent from the political scene for the past decade but remains an enduring and beloved symbol of the struggle against racism.

He is revered at home and abroad for leading the struggle against white minority rule, including spending 27 years in prison on Robben Island, and then promoting racial reconciliation.

He became South Africa's first black president after winning the country's first all-race election in 1994.

Leadership qualities

US President Obama sent Mandela his best wishes.

"When you think of a single individual that embodies the kind of leadership qualities that I think we all aspire to, the first name that comes up is Nelson Mandela. And so we wish him all the very best," he said.

Mandela was briefly hospitalized earlier this month for a check-up. In December, he spent nearly three weeks in a hospital with a lung infection and again after a surgery to remove gallstones.

That was his longest stay in a hospital since his release from prison in 1990 after serving almost three decades for conspiring to overthrow the apartheid government.

Mandela has a history of lung problems after he contracted tuberculosis as a political prisoner.

Mandela spent much of last year in Qunu, his ancestral village in the poor Eastern Cape province. But since his release from the hospital in December, he has been at his home in an affluent Johannesburg suburb, closer to better-equipped medical facilities.

(China Daily 03/30/2013 page8)

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