By Mokun Njouny Nelson, Douala, Cameroon
South African president Jacob Zuma has re-asured the country National icon Nelson Mandela is “doing fine” after he was again re-admitted to hospital for a recurrent Lung Infection. An earlier statement from the presidents’ office said the 94 year old Mandela was “responding positively” to treatment”. This is the third time he is being admitted in hospital since December.
In the same BBC interview, President Zuma made illusions to the probable dead of Mandela who though still conscious in hospital, is said to be very frail. The president said in African society, when someone dies, he has “gone home” so dying especially for someone who has lived to the ripe old age of 94 was not necessarily a bad thing.
Presidents Zuma’s words will however not reassure South Africans most of who know dead is inevitable but somehow think it will never happen to their best known icon. There is generally panic across the country when Mandela, fondly known as “Madiba” is hospitalized. The government decided to be giving the public and international press updates on the state of health of the former South African president when during his earlier hospital admission, there was a cloud of secrecy around him.
The rumour mill went to overdrive and all types of scenarios were painted, forcing the government to finally decide the best policy was to make all Mandela’s hospital admissions public and to also disclose, as far as medical ethics permitted, the caase of his latest health crisis. A recurrent lung infection and galllstones has been the most annoying health issues Mandela has faced since he stepped down as president after only one term in office. He was released from prison in 1990 after 27 years in prison and elected South Africa’s first black prison in 1994. His family concedes Mandela is “very poorly”. Micro social media site twitter has been awash with goodwill messages of support to the former South African president.
Inevitable death…How the Media anticipates “celebrity” deaths.
Somehow though, South Africans must come to terms with the fact that the frail Mandela will no longer be around for long. To have managed to survive for 94 years is a record some in the west will envy. At that age, Mandela’s immune system like that of any one his age has weakened significantly and he has difficulties fighting the most basic bugs or bacteria. In time honoured tradition, some big media organizations have already prepared mandela’s obituary more than ten years ago. They have interviewed close friends and relatives of Mandela who in the interviews refer to him in the past tense and this are ready to run anytime he dies. Name any well renowned figure and know any media house worth it’s salt already has a ready obituary for him.
Pope John Paul the second had one prepared well before his death ( unknown to most people and though he was only elected less than a month ago, I am reliably informed some big media houses have already started gathering material for Pope Francis’s obituary). The media is just practical when it does this.
This is done not necessarily to wish the intended a speedy death but to make sure that the media orgaizations are not caught off guard when this happens. It barely re-inforces the fact that we all die in the end. Nobody is preparing an obituary for me now for one simple reason, I am nobody. If I was the US president, well, you bet big media orgaizations will have already gathered a rich obituary file on me.
For now though, Nelson Mandela is still with us. That is why in time honoured African tradition, president Jacob Zuma is asking South Africans to pray for his quick recovery from his latest health crisis. Each time he is admitted in hospital, there is a national collective sign of anxiety in South Africa and around the world; is this it? For now, Nelson Mandela, a one time boxing champion in his country is not throwing in the towel. He is still refusing to submit to a knock out blow from his invincible opponent, death.
We join South Africans in praying he keeps doing so but we will celebrate when even Mandela, The Iroko; gets knocked out.
Nelson Mandela Key Dates
Nelson Mandela. Timeline Nelson Mandela:
- 1918 Born in the Eastern Cape
- 1943 Joins African National Congress
- 1956 Charged with high treason, but charges dropped
- 1962 Arrested, convicted of sabotage, sentenced to five years in prison
- 1964 Charged again, sentenced to life
- 1990 Freed from prison
- 1993 Wins Nobel Peace Prize
- 1994 Elected first black president
- 1999 Steps down as leader
- 2004 Retires from public life