'Deeply Humbled' Obama Visits Mandela's Cell

Praises 'heroes' of Robben Island prison

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 30, 2013 10:52 AM CDT

(Newser) – President Obama may not get to see Nelson Mandela, but he paid tribute to the apartheid icon today by visiting the bleak prison cell where Mandela spent 18 years of his prison term, reports the BBC. Writing in the Robben Island prison guest book that he was "deeply humbled," Obama praised Robben's "heroes, who remind us that no shackles or cells can match the strength of the human spirit." Mandela, 94, remains in critical condition with the very lung problems he contracted during his time in the prison. Obama moves on to the University of Cape Town later today, where the AP notes that he'll unveil a $7 billion, five-year initiative to double access to South Africa's power grid.

President Obama looks out from Section B, prison cell No. 5, on Robben Island, South Africa, Sunday, June 30, 2013. This was Nelson Mandela's cell for 18 years of his 27-year prison term.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama, Ahmed Kathrada, tour guide and former prisoner with Nelson Mandela, President Obama, Marian Robinson and Leslie Robinson, on Robben Island, South Africa, Sunday, June 30,...   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Obama looks out from Section B, prison cell No. 5, on Robben Island, South Africa, Sunday, June 30, 2013. This was Nelson Mandela's cell for 18 years of his 27-year prison term.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Obama looks out from Section B, prison cell No. 5, on Robben Island, South Africa, Sunday, June 30, 2013. This was Nelson Mandela's cell for 18 years of his 27-year prison term.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Obama looks out from Section B, prison cell No. 5, on Robben Island, South Africa, Sunday, June 30, 2013. This was Nelson Mandela's cell for 18 years of his 27-year prison term.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Obama looks out from Section B, prison cell No. 5, on Robben Island, South Africa, Sunday, June 30, 2013. This was Nelson Mandela's cell for 18 years of his 27-year prison term.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Obama looks out from Section B, prison cell No. 5, on Robben Island, South Africa, Sunday, June 30, 2013. This was Nelson Mandela's cell for 18 years of his 27-year prison term.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A note written by President Obama and signed by he and Michelle Obama after they toured Robben Island, is seen on a guestbook, South Africa, Sunday, June 30, 2013.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Obama and Michelle Obama tour Robben Island, South Africa, Sunday, June 30, 2013.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Obama in silhouette walks by bar-covered windows during a tour of the prison on Robben Island, South Africa, Sunday, June 30, 2013.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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