Nelson Mandela Hospitalized With Stomach Ailment

Former South African President Nelson Mandela was hospitalized Saturday with a stomach ailment, according to a government statement issued about the 93-year-old beloved anti-apartheid icon.

Mandela "has had a long-standing abdominal complaint and doctors feel it needs proper specialist medical attention," President Jacob Zuma said, asking that Mandela's privacy be respected.

The statement did not say at which hospital Mandela was being treated. In 2011, he was hospitalized for a few days with an acute respiratory infection.

Mac Maharaj, Zuma's spokesman, said he could not immediately elaborate but that he would be issuing regular updates. The South African military, which had taken charge of Mandela's health care after he was hospitalized last year, and a spokesman for Mandela's office said he would have no statement Saturday.

Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in prison for his fight against racist apartheid rule, and he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

Well-wishers like Derek Kemper, a 47-year-old emergency services consultant, said they hoped Mandela would soon recover.

Kemper said he fought Mandela's African National Congress, now the country's governing party, as a soldier for the apartheid state. On Saturday, he was touring Soweto, the famed Johannesburg township set aside for blacks under apartheid and still largely black and poor, with a group of other whites. Kemper marveled at how far the country had come, and credited Mandela.

"He had the wisdom to try to reunite the country." Kemper said, speaking in front of a Soweto home where Mandela once lived that has been turned into a museum celebrating Mandela's life.

Kemper said he believed that even though Mandela has largely retired from public life, he has a moderating influence on younger black South Africans who may be impatient with the pace of change in their country. Kemper said he worried about whether the commitment to reconciliation would outlive Mandela.

But Kefiloe Molepo, a 19-year-old student who grew up just around the corner from Mandela's home, said there was little cause for concern. Molepo, walking home from church, said he was raised on stories about Mandela, who he said was a friend of his great-grandfather.

"When he was set free, he didn't think of vengeance," Molepo said. "He wanted peace for the nation."

Mandela's public appearances have become increasingly rare, though he did appear at the closing ceremony of the World Cup in July 2010. Mandela also held a private meeting with Michelle Obama when the U.S. first lady traveled to South Africa with her daughters last year.

Mandela has taken up permanent residence at his home in Qunu, in the southwestern region of South Africa where he was raised. Earlier this year, Mandela came to his Johannesburg home for what Zuma's office said would be a brief stay while maintenance was done at his Qunu home. Zuma's office said then that Mandela was in good health.

Mandela's last surviving sibling, a sister, died last month near Qunu. Makhulu Nothusile Bhulehluthi was 82. Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, their father, had several wives and 31 children.

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  • by Anonymous on Feb 27, 2012 at 01:04 PM
    I will almost never agree with Barlow, but I must say, he's hit it right on the head with this one. From a devout conservative: best wishes, Mr. Mandela.
  • by yukon on Feb 26, 2012 at 11:57 AM
    Who Cares
  • by martin Location: williamston on Feb 26, 2012 at 10:18 AM
    Is this local news, I'm sorry he has a stomach problem but so what.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 26, 2012 at 08:27 AM
    And we care because??????
    • reply
      by Really? on Feb 26, 2012 at 09:29 AM in reply to
      You may not care as much as if he were your grandpa, but I hope you are able to give this news at least a nod of respect, recognizing that this man's actions have made a difference in the lives of millions of people, not only in South Africa, but around the globe. People get excited by Jay-Z and Beyonce's baby and Whitney Houston's untimely death, so why not this? Mandela has more depth in his pinky fingernail than most of today's headlines.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Feb 26, 2012 at 03:05 PM in reply to Really?
        And I pose the question again....And we care because?????
    • reply
      by Some Of Us... on Feb 26, 2012 at 11:19 AM in reply to
      ...don't care.
  • by WisdomOfMandela on Feb 26, 2012 at 05:20 AM
    “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” “Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.” “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
  • by Barlow Location: Winterville on Feb 26, 2012 at 04:54 AM
    One of the greatest men of our time. Not only did he liberate his people from apartheid, but after his release he helped form a government of both blacks and whites to govern the country without violence. His book Long Walk to Freedom reads more like a novel than the story of a real man's life. We are unlikely to see another man this great in our life time
    • reply
      by Bull-Loany on Feb 27, 2012 at 05:23 AM in reply to Barlow
      Oh Pleeese!
  • by WhyILoveobama on Feb 26, 2012 at 04:14 AM
    Poor guy probably has obama care.That's WhyILoveobama!
  • by Formerly O.L.I. Location: ENC on Feb 25, 2012 at 03:58 PM
    Okay...not unusual.

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