South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela is “happier” since he returned to a quiet life in his rural childhood village, the CEO of his children’s hospital project said Friday.
“He’s happier where he is now in Qunu. It’s quiet. No one’s bothering him every five minutes to sign something,” said Bongi Mkhabela, the CEO of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Fund.
The ageing icon, who turned 94 in July, has grown frail and has not appeared in public since South Africa’s Football World Cup final in 2010.
His wife Graca Machel increasingly represents him at public events, and chairs the project to build Africa’s fifth children’s hospital in Johannesburg.
“She is very busy, besides caring for Mandela, who really doesn’t like her being absent,” Mkhabela laughed.
Mandela’s wish of a specialist children’s health facility will come one step close to realisation in November when construction is due to start.
“Children of South Africa have the right to be cared for and receive treatment when they’re ill,” the revered statesman says in a recorded fund-raising video.
“His true essence comes out in his love for children,” said Mkhabela.
“He wants to have the confidence that children will be okay.”
Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his fight against white minority rule under apartheid, becoming the country’s first black president in 1994 which ended white minority rule.