Nelson Mandela has been in and out of the hospital for the past few months, with one of his most recent visits ending this past April after his treatment for pneumonia. Currently hospitalized again to seek treatment for a recurring lung infection, he is said to be in stable though critical condition and some are discussing the possibility that these may be Mandela's final days.
While President Zuma called on the people to pray for the anti-apartheid leader and expressed that he hopes he will have a quick recovery, others have been outright in their beliefs that perhaps Mandela's long fight with his health could be quickly coming to an end.
On Sunday, South Africa's Sunday Times released their Sunday paper with a headline that read "It's time to let him go," a quote from his longtime friend Andrew Mlangeni who called on his family to release him from the hospital. "Once the family releases him, the people of South Africa will follow. We will say thank you, God, you have given us this man, and we will release him too," Mlangeni added.
In another article published on African Arguments, one editor writes about how a journalist would prepare for writing a public figure such as Nelson Mandela’s obituary and how one would properly frame his accomplishments and his legacy.
I normally would be against speaking about an individual's death prematurely, that is, if no medical report has been released that states the individual in question is on the brink of passing away. However, these statements and articles making references to the likelihood of Mandela's death occurring soon are not outrageous in pointing out this possibility.
Robben Island, the place where Mandela was held captive as a political prisoner for 27 years, is also the place in which he contracted tuberculosis, the disease that would later cause him to fight a long-term battle with his health. At the age of 94 and after having taken several trips to the hospital in recent days, we would hope that Mandela will be resilient and survive through another round of medical care, although we cannot bank on it.
No matter what the outcome of this hospitalization will be, we must never forget to celebrate the life and legacy of this tremendously accomplished and venerated figure, both in his life and posthumously.