Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela 'in Good Spirits' During Lung Infection Recovery

South Africa's government encourages public not to panic about health of beloved leader.

Nelson Mandela
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Former South African President Nelson Mandela "is in good spirits and enjoyed a full breakfast" as he recovers from a lung infection, a government spokesman said Friday.

"The doctors report that he is making steady progress" since he was admitted late Wednesday night, said Mac Maharaj, the spokesman for current South African President Jacob Zuma, the Independent Online reports.

In a videotaped interview with the BBC on Thursday, Zuma said, "The country must not panic."

[FLASHBACK: Relief as Mandela Leaves Hospital]

When asked about the aging leader's inevitable—although not necessarily imminent—death, Zuma said, "In Zulu there's a time when somebody passes away who is old, people say he or she has gone home. ... I think those are some of the things we should be thinking about."

The BBC notes that Mandela, 94, contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s while imprisoned on Robben Island. Mandela served 23 years in prison for his anti-apartheid activism. He was released in 1990, and was elected the country's first black president in 1994.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner's health has teetered for the past several months. In February, Mandela was hospitalized for a stomach ailment. In December, he was admitted to a hospital after suffering gallstones and a lung infection.

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