Mandela's 'Sparkle Fading,' Says Wife

Makes comments as former leader diagnosed with lung infection

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 11, 2012 5:59 AM CST

(Newser) – The first specifics of Nelson Mandela's condition are trickling out following the former president's weekend hospitalization, and they're both encouraging and heart-tugging. The New York Times reports that his condition has been revealed as a recurring lung infection, and he is reportedly "responding to the treatment." But wife Graca Machel spoke yesterday of the difficulty of seeing him age, reports the AFP, telling a news station, "It's something also which pains you. ... I mean, this spirit and this sparkle, you see that somehow it's fading." The 94-year-old was also hospitalized for a respiratory infection in January 2011; he was hospitalized earlier this year with stomach pains.

Nelson Mandela reacts as  Zambia's former President Kenneth Kaunda, unseen, makes a joke during his 90th birthday celebrations at his house in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, July 19, 2008.
Nelson Mandela reacts as Zambia's former President Kenneth Kaunda, unseen, makes a joke during his 90th birthday celebrations at his house in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, July 19, 2008.   (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, Pool)
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