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Zindzi upbeat as Mandela turns 95

18 July 2013, 08:01

Johannesburg - As Nelson Mandela turned 95 on Thursday, still in hospital after being admitted on 8 June with a recurring lung infection, there was another upbeat account of his condition.

His daughter Zindzi told Britain's Sky News he was making "remarkable progress" and was even able to watch television, she said on Wednesday, the eve of the anti-apartheid icon's 95th birthday.

"He is making remarkable progress," said Zindzi.

Zindzi said she visited Mandela on Tuesday and saw him "watching TV with his headphones".

"You can see he is there in his eyes, the same energy and strength," she said, and hopes he will be released "soon".

He "gave us a huge smile, and he responds very well... with his eyes, and he nods and sometimes he lifts his hand like to shake your hand," she told the broadcaster.

Earlier in the week, Mandela's successor, Thabo Mbeki, also suggested he might be going home soon.

So far, the government's official word on the elder statesman's condition was that he was critically ill, but stable.

Zindzi, Mandela's youngest daughter with his former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, confessed that earlier on the family was deeply worried about his condition.

"There was a time that we were all extremely anxious and worried, and we were prepared for the worst," she said. "But he continues to amaze us every day."

Mandela's wife Graça Machel last Friday said he was responding to treatment and that she was less anxious now about his health than she had been in previous weeks.


Meanwhile, Madiba's grandson, Mandla, said on Wednesday that the spirit of giving will make the former president smile, despite him being critically ill.

"It is [the] spirit of giving and sharing that will change our world," he said in a statement.

"It is this changed world that will make Madiba smile, always."

He was referring to the acts of kindness expected to take place across South Africa on Thursday to celebrate Madiba's birthday.
Every year on 18 July, many South Africans spend 67 minutes of their time doing charitable work - one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service to the country.

He expressed admiration for his grandfather's strength.

"The fact that my grandfather is with us to this day, when doomsday people predicted his demise, makes me proud of his fighting spirit which he has demonstrated over the many years of his life," Mandla said.

Birthday party

Zindzi said the family will hold a birthday party for Mandela, and take him some of his favourite foods.
The family is also planning a special present for the former president on his birthday, which many relatives feared he might not see.

Zindzi Mandela said: "Naturally it's very difficult to come up with an ideal gift ... so normally we just do huge, huge picture frames of all the family events and members of the family.


President Jacob Zuma said all thoughts will be focused on Mandela's legacy.

"Let us return Madiba's sacrifices and contributions through our own efforts to build a better society.

Make every day a Mandela day."

Zuma will mark the day by overseeing the donation of houses to poor white families in the Pretoria area in line with Cabinet's theme to celebrate Mandela Day by focusing on food security, shelter and literacy.


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