Family meets to discuss situation with Mandela

Relatives of former South African president Nelson Mandela gathered at his home Tuesday as the ailing icon remained in critical condition.

South African media reports say Mandela’s children called the meeting to discuss important family matters, presumably related to his failing health.  Various relatives were seen arriving around mid-day at the home in Qunu, in Eastern Cape province.

The presidency said earlier that Mandela’s condition was unchanged and that doctors are doing their best “to ensure his recovery, well-being and comfort.”

The anti-apartheid leader was hospitalized in Pretoria more than two weeks ago for a lung infection.

Tuesday, residents in the city of Soweto talked about their wishes for the ailing Nobel Peace laureate.

“My message will be simple: a speedy recovery. Because we as a nation and his family, we need him more than we did in the past,” said Isaac Mabena.

“He has been an inspiration to most of us and may the good Lord have mercy upon him and make him well.  But if it is time for him to let go and leave us now, so be it,” said Mpho Marotola.

Officials and family members said last week that Mandela appeared to be improving, but the reports turned grim on Saturday, when the government said his condition was critical.

South Africa’s minister of international relations said Tuesday that U.S. President Barack Obama will not meet with Mandela during his upcoming visit to South Africa.

A White House spokesman would not speculate Monday about how Mandela’s health might impact Obama’s visit.  Jay Carney said only that Obama continues to look forward to the trip and said the U.S. president sees Mandela as one of his heroes.

Mandela family members continued to visit him in the hospital Monday.

Mandela’s daughter, Makaziwe, said Monday the family is taking each day as it comes and is enjoying as much time as they can with him.  She said she believes her father is at peace.

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