South Africans resigned over 'critical' Nelson Mandela
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South Africans adopted a mood of sombre resignation on Monday to the inevitability of saying goodbye to former president Nelson Mandela after the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader's condition in hospital deteriorated to critical.
Madiba, as he is affectionately known, is revered among most of South Africa's 53 million people as the architect of the 1994 transition to multi-racial democracy after three centuries of white domination.
However, his latest hospitalisation - his fourth in six months - has reinforced a realisation that the father of the post-apartheid "Rainbow Nation" will not be around for ever.
President Jacob Zuma, who visited Mandela late on Sunday with African National Congress (ANC) Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, reflected the national mood when he told a news conference that Mandela remained critical.
"All of us in the country must accept that Madiba is now old. As he ages, his health will trouble him," Zuma said, declining to give specific details about Mandela's medical condition or other information from his hospital visit.
"Given the hour, he was already asleep. We saw him, looked at him and then we had a bit of a discussion with the doctors and his wife," Zuma said. "I don't think I'm a position to give further details. I'm not a doctor."
U.S. President Barack Obama is due to visit South Africa this week as part of a three-country Africa tour but Zuma said Mandela's worsening state of health should not affect the trip.
"Nothing is going to stop the visit because Madiba is sick," Zuma said.
Mandela's daughter Makaziwe said the family was taking each day as it came and enjoying as much time as possible with a man who, to them, is simply a father, grandfather or great-grandfather.
"He is at peace with himself," she told CNN. "He has given so much to the world. I believe he is at peace."