Nelson Mandela “opened his eyes” and smiled after being told of President Barack Obama’s imminent visit to South Africa, according to NBC News, which cites reports from the ailing former leader’s daughter. The news only adds to speculation that the two men might meet.
The 94-year-old remains in a critical condition, South Africa’s government said Tuesday as relatives gathered at his home for a family meeting that local media reports described as “urgent.”
The anti-apartheid campaigner and democracy icon has been in hospital with a lung infection since June 8. His condition was downgraded over the weekend from “serious but stable” to “critical.”
Obama is due to leave Wednesday for Senegal, his first stop in a tour of Africa, before heading to South Africa on Friday.
Officials have said it is up to Mandela’s family to decide if the former leader is well enough to meet the president, and no meeting is scheduled.
Zindzi Mandela said Tuesday that she had said to her father: “Obama is coming.”
“He opened his eyes and gave me a smile,” she said.
Read more at NBC News.