By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA
Former President Nelson Mandela was discharged from a hospital on Saturday following treatment for pneumonia, the presidency said in news that cheered South Africans who had waited tensely for health updates on a beloved national figure.
Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who spent 27 years in prison for opposing white racist rule, was robust during his decades as a public figure, endowed with charisma, a powerful memory and an extraordinary talent for articulating the aspirations of his people and winning over many of those who opposed him. In recent years, however, 94-year-old Mandela became more frail and last made a public appearance at the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament, where he didn’t deliver an address and was bundled against the cold in a stadium full of fans.
South Africans hold the former leader dear as a symbol of sacrifice and reconciliation stemming from his pivotal role in steering South Africa from the apartheid era and into democratic elections in 1994, at a time of great hope but also tension and uncertainty. The new South Africa, beset by economic inequality, crime and corruption, has not lived up to the soaring expectations of its people, but they still see hope through their icon, Mandela.
Primrose Mashoma, a South African, said she wished that Mandela would live, basically, forever.
“I wish him to stay maybe a hundred more years,” she said.