Following weeks of speculation over his fate, former South African president Nelson Mandela has died aged 94 in a hospital, according to latest reports.
TITLE: Anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela dies at 94
SOUTH AFRICA - Following weeks of speculation over his fate, former South African president Nelson Mandela has died aged 94 in a Pretoria hospital, according to latest reports.
On Thursday, an elder in the South African icon's clan said he was on life support and unable to breathe on his own, all but extinguishing hopes for the Anti-apartheid hero's recovery.
"Yes, he is using machines to breathe," Napilisi Mandela told AFP after visiting the much-loved 94-year-old's bedside. "It is bad, but what can we do," added the elder who usually presides over family rituals and meetings.
Most South Africans earlier in the week seemed prepared for the worst after the frail freedom fighter's condition in hospital deteriorated to critical.
Madiba, as he was affectionately known, was admired among most of South Africa's 53 million people as the architect of the 1994 transition to multi-racial democracy after three centuries of white domination.
His latest hospitalization before his death was his fourth in six months.
When Mandela lay on his hospital bed, South Africans, and the world at large, prayed for him. PHOTO/AFP
So as the world held its breath during this while, many bowed down to the realization that the father of the post-apartheid 'Rainbow Nation' would not be around forever.
On Monday, President Jacob Zuma told a news conference he and African National Congress (ANC) Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had visited Mandela late on Sunday night, according to Reuters.
But he declined to give specific details about his medical condition other than to say he remained critical, reported the news agency.
"Given the hour, he was already asleep. We saw him, looked at him and then we had a bit of a discussion with the doctors and his wife," Reuters reported Zuma as saying.
"I don't think I'm a position to give further details. I'm not a doctor."
Battling a lung infection all this while, Mandela’s condition in hospital was reported “critical” just two weeks after it was “stable but serious”.
Since stepping down in 1999 after one term as president, Mandela stayed out of active politics in a country with Africa’s biggest and most important economy.
His last public appearance was waving to fans from the back of a golf cart before the final of the soccer World Cup in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium in July 2010.
During his retirement, the ex-president divided his time between his home in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, and Qunu, the village in the poor Eastern Cape province where he was born.
The public's last glimpse of him was a brief clip aired by state television in April this year during a visit to his home by President Zuma and other senior officials of the ruling African National Congress.
At the time, the 101-year-old liberation movement, which led the fight against white-minority rule, assured the public Mandela was "in good shape", although the footage showed a thin and frail old man sitting expressionless in an armchair.
PROFILE: Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela
The anti-apartheid hero was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. His father was Chief Henry Mandela of the Tembu Tribe.
- Mandela was educated at University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand and qualified in law in 1942. He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party's apartheid policies after 1948.
- He went on trial for treason in 1956-1961 and was acquitted in 1961.
- After the banning of the ANC in 1960, Nelson Mandela argued for the setting up of a military wing within the ANC.
- In June 1961, the ANC executive considered his proposal on the use of violent tactics and agreed that those members who wished to involve themselves in Mandela's campaign would not be stopped from doing so by the ANC.
- This led to the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years' imprisonment with hard labour.
- In 1963, when many fellow leaders of the ANC and the Umkhonto we Sizwe were arrested, Mandela was brought to stand trial with them for plotting to overthrow the government by violence.
- His statement from the dock received considerable international publicity. On June 12, 1964, eight of the accused, including Mandela, were sentenced to life imprisonment.
- From 1964 to 1982, he was incarcerated at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town; thereafter, he was at Pollsmoor Prison, nearby on the mainland.
- During his years in prison, Nelson Mandela's reputation grew steadily. He was widely accepted as the most significant black leader in South Africa and became a potent symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength.
- He consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom.
- Nelson Mandela was released on February 11, 1990. After his release, he plunged himself wholeheartedly into his life's work, striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost four decades earlier.
- In 1991, at the first national conference of the ANC held inside South Africa after the organization had been banned in 1960, Mandela was elected President of the ANC.
- His lifelong friend and colleague, Oliver Tambo, became the organisation's National Chairperson.
Mandela in Uganda picture gallery (TO BE INCLUDED AND LINKED AFTER GALLERY IS UPLOADED)
MANDELA: DO NOT PUBLISH PLEASE !!!!!!!!!!!! (UPDATED)