Obama’s ‘Hero’ Mandela Hangs On

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US President Barack Obama flies to South Africa Friday hoping to pay homage to the legacy of his critically ill hero Nelson Mandela, who is fighting for his life in hospital.

Mandela’s ill health means the two men, who shattered racial boundaries on either side of the Atlantic, are not expected to have a long-anticipated meeting for the cameras.

Still, reflections on Mandela’s extraordinary journey from prisoner to president are likely to permeate Obama’s three-day stay.

Mandela, who turns 95 next month, was rushed to hospital three weeks ago with a recurrent lung disease and has since appeared close to death.

On the eve of the visit, South Africa’s first black president was said to be in a critical condition, but had stabilised since a scare forced his successor Jacob Zuma to cancel a trip to neighbouring Mozambique.

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