Nelson Mandela may be getting a short but symbolic visit from President Barack Obama, who is in South Africa.
Mandela has been hospitalized for weeks with a stubborn lung infection, a condition stemming from the tuberculosis Mandela contracted while serving in a prison labor camp for 27 years. His condition worsened over the last few days, with reports that he is on life support and near death.
Family members have given hints that Barack Obama may be paying a visit to Nelson Mandela sometime in the next few days. Though brief, it would have great significance if the two were to meet. Each man was the first black leader of their respective countries.
Mandela was also great influence on Obama during his college years, inspiring his own political activism.
There have been differing rumors about the condition of Nelson Mandela. Earlier in the week reports said that leaders from his tribe were preparing his imminent death, and preparing a succession to his heir, his grandson-in-law. But in recent days there have been reports that Mandela is stabilizing and his condition improving.
According to CNN, South African President Jacob Zuma said the former South African president “remains critical but is now stable.”
His family members say Mandela’s condition is precarious.
“I reiterate that Tata is very critical, that anything is imminent,” Makaziwe Mandela told state-run South African Broadcasting Corp. “But I want to emphasize again that it’s only God who knows when the time to go is. And so we will wait.”
Obama said.Barack Obama, who landed in South Africa on Friday, said he will see if he is able to visit Nelson Mandela. He sounded careful not to turn a potential visit into a media circus.
“I think the main message we’ll want to deliver, if not directly to him, but to his family, is simply profound gratitude for his leadership,” Obama said of the potential Nelson Mandela.