Skip to main content

Messages for Nelson Mandela; hope turns to resignation

From Robyn Curnow, CNN
updated 6:28 AM EDT, Wed June 26, 2013
Well-wishers sing outside the hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa, on Sunday, June 30. Well-wishers sing outside the hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa, on Sunday, June 30.
HIDE CAPTION
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Messages for Nelson Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
Crowds gather to support Mandela
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mood darkens in South Africa as Nelson Mandela's condition remains critical
  • More messages are being pinned on a wall outside the hospital in Pretoria
  • Media has gathered since announcement Sunday that condition had worsened
  • Headlines in local newspapers suggest struggle may be coming to an end

Pretoria (CNN) -- Handwritten messages pinned to a makeshift memorial board outside a Pretoria hospital describe the fear and resignation felt by many ordinary South Africans that Nelson Mandela may not be with them much longer.

"You are and will always be a true legend and grandfather to us all," reads one note tied around the neck of a little white bear. Another, placed with a bunch of proteas, the country's national flower, says "Tata Mandela you have touched our lives and blessed us in more ways than one. We love you."

Many of the messages appear to be written by children, in colored glue and pen, including one which features the hand prints of children still far too young to understand the indelible mark the former president has left on their country.

Dozens gather to pray for Nelson Mandela
The whole world prays for one man

The touching and very personal tributes started appearing on the wall on June 8, the day Mandela was admitted to hospital for a recurring lung infection.

However, what was hoped to be a short stint has stretched into its 19th day, the longest period of hospitalization ever for a man known not for his physical strength but personal fortitude.

Headlines in local newspapers leave little doubt about the challenges Mandela, or Madiba as he's known here, faces after a life of struggle at the age of 94.

Against a predominantly black front page, the Daily Sun's lead headline reads: "The Final Struggle," with the sub headline "Critical Hours for Madiba."

On Sunday, President Jacob Zuma announced that Mandela's condition had slipped from stable to critical, prompting a private meeting of his closest family members Tuesday.

It's not known what they discussed but the meeting added further worry as onlookers waited for an update from the presidential office on Mandela's condition.

You are and will always be a true legend and grandfather to us all.
Alphonso and Tania

Since his condition worsened on Sunday, media crews from around the world have made their way to the street outside the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria.

Late Tuesday, in an ominous sign, large numbers of police officers descended on the area, setting up road blocks at either end of the Celliers street, where the hospital is located.

Pedestrians are being allowed to move back and forth across the barriers, as are cars, but most media crews remain parked for fear of losing their space in what's fast becoming a very crowded street.

A number of satellite trucks have been moved into position, beaming live broadcasts around the world -- further evidence, if any is needed, of Mandela's influence beyond the borders of his homeland.

In between reports, journalists struggle to stay warm; it's winter in South Africa and while the sun warms the air throughout the day, at night temperatures fall below freezing.

No one knows how long the wait will last.

If the darkening mood is anything to go by, it may not be long until South Africa is forced to confront the reality that some hoped would never come.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:28 PM EST, Sun December 15, 2013
Candles are lit under a portrait of Neslon Mandela before the funeral ceremony of South African former president Nelson Mandela in Qunu on December 15, 2013.
As 95 candles glowed in the background, mourners gathered for Nelson Mandela's state funeral Sunday.
updated 6:36 AM EST, Sun December 15, 2013
One candle burns for each year of Nelson Mandela's life, as family, friends, dignitaries and celebrities gather in his ancestral home, Qunu.
updated 5:36 AM EST, Sun December 15, 2013
CNN's Robyn Curnow is inside the Mandela family compound in Qunu as the state funeral service is ongoing.
updated 11:29 PM EST, Sat December 14, 2013
Don't expect the man who fought to end apartheid and then led South Africa as its first black president to spend eternity pushing up just daisies.
updated 10:50 PM EST, Sat December 14, 2013
Not only is Nelson Mandela the former president of South Africa, but he is also a father, grandfather and even a great-grandfather.
updated 11:13 PM EST, Sat December 14, 2013
Nelson Mandela once said his wife, Graca Machel, makes him "bloom like a flower."
updated 3:49 AM EST, Sun December 15, 2013
South African pays tribute and thanks Nelson Mandela at the former leader's funeral in Qunu.
updated 3:45 AM EST, Sun December 15, 2013
South African President Jacob Zuma sings at the funeral of Nelson Mandela.
updated 2:25 AM EST, Sun December 15, 2013
Anti-apartheid veteran Ahmed Kathrada spent 26 years imprisoned with his close friend and confidant Nelson Mandela.
updated 11:08 PM EST, Sat December 14, 2013
The coffin carrying Nelson Mandela's body arrived Saturday in his ancestral village of Qunu, where he'll be buried.
updated 4:28 PM EST, Sat December 14, 2013
Crowds gather as Nelson Mandela's funeral convoy arrives at Mthatha Airport in South Africa's Eastern Cape.
updated 2:32 PM EST, Fri December 13, 2013
Beloved icon Nelson Mandela will be laid to rest on the farm where he grew up. CNN's Robyn Curnow gives an inside look.
updated 11:44 AM EST, Fri December 13, 2013
It might be timely to put aside out-of-date and ill-informed views of Africa, and see it the way Africans seem to: With a high level of optimism.
updated 11:40 PM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
Mandela emerged from prison to lead his country out of racist apartheid rule with a message of reconciliation that inspired the world.
updated 11:32 AM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
The late South African President reflects on his imprisonment and his fight against apartheid.
updated 9:57 AM EST, Tue December 10, 2013
Nelson Mandela, hailed for leading South Africa out of apartheid, wanted to be remembered as part of a collective and not in isolation.
updated 1:03 PM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
Nelson Mandela
From revolutionary to revered statesman, Nelson Mandela left his inspirational mark on the world.
updated 6:24 PM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
The only known footage of Nelson Mandela while at Robben Prison shows inside his cell and the former president in 1977.
updated 12:45 PM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
Mandela spent almost three decades in jail. But he had two Indian goddesses and a 17th century playwright for company.
updated 7:52 AM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
He was loved and admired the world over, profiled in books and movies. But even he has little-known facts buried in his biographies.
updated 6:00 PM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
A file photo showing South African Nelson Mandela taking the presidential oath on May 10, 1994 during his inauguration at the Union Building in Pretoria.
April 27, 1994, was the crowning moment in Nelson Mandela's life -- the day South Africa held its first elections open to citizens of every race.
From a village birth, to political activism, to prison and emergence as a worldwide leader.
updated 6:40 PM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
"No one is born hating another person ..." and more from Nelson Mandela in his own words
updated 8:47 AM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
South African former President Nelson Mandela holds the Jules Rimet World cup, 15 May 2004 at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich.
"Sport has the power to change the world," Nelson Mandela once said -- and eloquently supported his claim.
updated 9:48 PM EDT, Wed June 26, 2013
Browse through intimate images of Nelson Mandela, including the earliest known photograph believed to be taken in 1938.
updated 8:26 AM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
The Special AKA's "Free Nelson Mandela" became anti-apartheid anthem, and led to Mandela's release from prison after 27 years.
How will you remember Mandela? Send us your stories, memories and photographs.
ADVERTISEMENT