Former South African President Nelson Mandela spent his fourth day in hospital Monday. After being admitted for a fourth time since December of last year, Mandela is fighting a lung infection that seems to be taking its toll on him. The South African presidency released a statement earlier stating that the 94-year-old's condition was "unchanged" adding on to an earlier statement that described Mandela's condition as "serious but stable."
Earlier Mandela was treated in the hospital in April for pneumonia and had to have fluid drained from around his lungs. He also had gallstones removed earlier this year.
Before becoming South African president in 1994, Mandela spent 27 years in Robben Island prison, where he contracted tuberculosis. It is believed that the disease permanently damaged his lungs; indirectly leading to the numerous infections he has suffered since retiring from public life in 2004.
Mandela's family relatives flew in from around the world today to be at his bedside. Mandela's wife Graca Machel cancelled an appearance in London to be at the hospital where Mandela is receiving treatment. His eldest daughter Zenani Mandela-Dlamini returned from Argentina, where she is the South African ambassador. Mandela's granddaughters have also been seen coming and going from the hospital over the last couple of days, while another daughter Zindzi Mandela was yesterday reported as saying, "I've seen my father and he is well. He is a fighter." His ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela also traveled and met Mandela in intensive care.
Without doubt the greatest South African to have ever lived, Mandela is a symbol for anti-racism, freedom, perseverance, equality and democracy not only to his South Africa compatriots but also to the entire world. His government was the first representative and elected government in South Africa signaling an end to the highly suppressive and racist rule under apartheid rule which was also responsible for imprisoning him for 27 years. Described as the "father of the nation" in South Africa, Mandela has received international acclaim for his anti-colonial and anti-apartheid stance, having received over 250 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Soviet Order of Lenin.
While one of the greatest men of the 20th century fights for his life in hospital, we must not forget to celebrate his achievements and legacy. Most importantly however, we must never forget what Mandela lived for.