Times Live is reporting that former South African President Nelson "Madiba" Mandela made a surprise visit to his home in Transkei on Sunday. Mandela, who usually notifies the airport in Transkei of his arrival days in advance, arrived with little notice to the Mthatha Airport.
Speculation that the human rights activist is gravely ill has followed him since his unexpected hospitalization in January for an acute respiratory infection. He had not been seen publicly since being hospitalized until last Monday, when he cast a special vote in the local government elections.
Sources close to the 92-year-old civil rights icon said that he had told his family on Thursday, "I want to go home." Before his arrival, five aircraft, including a military medical aircraft, were seen at Mthatha Airport just before midday. At 1 p.m. a white medical military aircraft landed, and 30 minutes later Mandela and his wife arrived in a Boeing plane. A specially designed wheelchair-lift truck transferred the former president to a nearby military ambulance. Soon afterward, a convoy of about 12 vehicles, some with tinted windows, drove out of the airport. At the time, the medical aircraft was hovering above the convoy until Madiba reached his Qunu home.
At home, he was welcomed by grandson Nkosi Mandla Mandela and other family members, including Napilisi Mandela. Madiba's clan nephew, AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, was among those who visited Mandela. His grandson Mandla could not be reached for comment. However, he said, "The old man is very old" when asked whether, during his weeklong stay, Mandela would pay his respects to the late AbaThembu Queen Nolwazi, who was buried on Saturday.
Perhaps the speculation that Mandela is gravely ill is more than just speculation. An impromptu visit to his birthplace with a medical envoy in tow does not bode well for "Tata." At 92 years old, he has lived an amazing life and been central to creating social change and justice that will live well beyond his years on earth. We're keeping Mr. Mandela in our prayers.
Read more at Times Live.