Nelson Mandela’s family has met with President Barack Obama. The president’s visit to South Africa was met with protest by hundreds of South African residents. However, he managed to arrange a private meeting with the family of the ailing civil rights hero.
Obama considers Mandela one of his heroes, referring to him as a “personal inspiration.” The president hoped to meet with Mandela during the trip. However, as Mandela’s health continues to decline, a face-to-face meeting was impossible.
As reported by Reuters, Obama met privately with Mandela’s family at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.
Following the meeting, President Obama stated that he had an opportunity to speak with Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, on the telephone:
“I expressed my hope that [Mandela] draws peace and comfort from the time that he is spending with loved ones, and also expressed my heartfelt support for the entire family as they work through this difficult time.”
Nelson Mandela, age 94, remains hospitalized in Pretoria. His condition is reportedly “critical but stable”. His family remains by his side.
Obama’s two-day visit to South Africa was met with opposition, as South African residents continue to protest US foreign policies, including drone strikes.
Stun grenades were used to disperse hundreds of protesters gathered outside the University of Johannesburg, where Obama was scheduled to speak.
President Obama explained that his main objective is to help Africa develop stable governments and more productive trade and investment agreements.
Speaking of Mandela’s legacy, Obama explained that the anti-apartheid hero “showed what is possible … when a priority is placed on constitutions and rule of law and respect for human dignity and that all people are treated equal.”
As reported by The New York Times, President Obama will continue his tour on Sunday, visiting Robben Island, where Mandala was previously incarcerated.
As Nelson Mandela remains hospitalized, vigils continue outside the hospital and his home. Mandela is known worldwide for his unrelenting fight for freedom and civil rights.
[Image via Wikipedia]