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Wednesday, June 26, 2013


After hours of vigils and secret family meetings, South Africans awoke to another day of unease Wednesday as ailing anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela remained hospitalized in critical condition.
"Former President Nelson Mandela's condition remains unchanged in hospital and doctors continue to do their best to ensure his recovery, well-being and comfort," the government said in a statement late Tuesday night.
Well-wishers outside his Pretoria hospital hung balloons and signs of support on bulletin boards. The hospital wall was plastered with messages as crowds hovering nearby sang "where is Mandela."
Mandela has been hospitalized since June 8 for a recurring lung infection, and authorities have described his condition as critical in the last few days.
 Considered the founding father of South Africa's democracy, Mandela became an international figure while enduring 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid, the country's system of racial segregation.
He was elected the nation's first black president in 1994, four years after he was freed from prison.
Even as he has faded from the spotlight, he remains popular and is considered a hero of democracy worldwide. 

As South Africans steeled themselves for the worst, the family turned to prayer. Relatives met in his boyhood home of Qunu while an archbishop led his family in prayer Tuesday, calling for "a quiet night and a peaceful, perfect, end" for the former president. Archbishop Thabo Makgoba joined the family at the hospital where the anti-apartheid icon remains in critical condition.


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