Mandela Family Express Gratitude for Support

The anti-apartheid hero’s wife and grandson express gratitude for support as Mandela spends his tenth day in the hospital.

Posted: 06/17/2013 09:10 AM EDT

(Photo: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela will be spending his tenth day in the hospital, following a weekend full of prayer, song and well-wishes from South Africa and abroad.  

Mandela “continues to engage with family,” according to a prepared speech released by the president’s office. Zuma also wished Madiba — Mandela's clan name — "a very happy Father’s Day." South African President Jacob Zuma announced that Mandela remains in serious condition from a recurring lung infection, but that the former president’s improvement has been sustained.

Mandela’s wife Graca Machel spoke on the outpouring of support received "from South Africans, Africans across the continent, and thousands more from across the world ... to lighten the burden of anxiety; bringing us love, comfort and hope. "

"The messages have come by letter, by SMS, by phone, by Twitter, by Facebook, by email, cards, flowers and the human voice, in particular the voices of children in schools or singing outside our home," Machel said in a statement. "We have felt the closeness of the world and the deepest meaning of strength and peace."

Grandson Mandla Mandela also opened up about Mandela’s condition, claiming “we saw the improvement in his health." At the memorial service of an elderly cousin this past weekend, he spoke about his 94-year-old grandfather’s significant impact on the country.

"The old man is not only ours, but he is for the people of South Africa, Africa, and the whole world," he said at the funeral, located in Mandela's home village in South Africa's Eastern Cape. "We would like to say, even tomorrow, these prayers are the ones that will make him strong, so that he can feel better and rise from that hospital bed."

The freedom fighter was imprisoned for 27 years during the apartheid regime. He and other prisoners worked in a stone quarry off the windy coast of Cape Town in the notorious Robben Island prison, where Mandela contracted tuberculosis. After being released in 1990, he would continue on to become the nation's first Black president.

Mandela has been hospitalized four times since December due to respiratory illness.

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