Obama Won't See Mandela
He will meet with family instead
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2013 7:36 AM CDT
President Obama speaks at a news conference with South African President Jacob Zuma Saturday in Pretoria.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – Barring a last-minute change, President Obama won't be visiting the man he considers a personal hero, Nelson Mandela. Obama is now in South Africa, but the White House announced that he will skip a visit to the hospital "out of deference to Nelson Mandela's peace and comfort and the family's wishes," reports the BBC. Instead, he will meet privately with the family. His weekend itinerary also includes a stop with his own family at Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.

"The struggle here against apartheid for freedom, Madiba's moral courage, this country's historic transition to a free and democratic nation has been a personal inspiration to me, it has been an inspiration to the world," Obama said at a news conference, using Mandela's clan name, reports AP. For his part, South African President Jacob Zuma added that Obama and Mandela were "bound by history" as the first black leaders of their nations. The 94-year-old Mandela remains in critical condition, though Zuma said he had "every hope that he will be out of the hospital soon."