Mandela's condition 'improving' as Obama flies in

Updated: 2013-06-29 11:19


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"Two great men"

Protesters said the first African-American president should not try to link himself to the anti-apartheid figure.

"Mandela valued human life ... Mandela would condemn drone attacks and civilian deaths, Mandela cannot be his hero, he cannot be on that list," said Yousha Tayob.

Mandela's condition 'improving' as Obama flies in

Cards and flowers are left outside the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital, where the ailing former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated, in Pretoria June 28, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

Not far away at the Pretoria heart hospital, some of the people paying tribute to Mandela had words of praise for Obama, who met Mandela in 2005 when he was still a US senator.

Nigerian painter Sanusi Olatunji, 31, had brought portraits of both Mandela and Obama to the wall of the hospital, where flowers, tribute notes and gifts for Madiba, as Mandela is affectionately known, have been piling up.

"These are the two great men of my lifetime," he said.

As Mandela's health has deteriorated this year, the realisation has grown among South Africa's 53 million people that the man who forged their multi-racial "Rainbow Nation" from the ashes of apartheid may be nearing his end.

The possibility of his dying has already generated controversy among the extended Mandela clan.

A dispute between two factions over where the family grave should be went to court on Friday when his eldest daughter and more than a dozen other relatives sought an injunction against Mandela's grandson, Mandla.

The state broadcaster SABC said a court had ordered Mandla to return the remains of three of Mandela's children from the village of Mvezo, where the anti-apartheid icon was born and where Mandla is now an influential tribal chief, to their former graves in Qunu, the village 20 km (13 miles) away where Mandela spent most of his childhood.

Mandla, 39, has built a memorial centre in Mvezo that many have interpreted as an attempt to ensure Mandela is buried there.