JOHANNESBURG – Nelson Mandela is doing well, a spokesman for South Africa's deputy president said Saturday, a day after the former president and international icon was discharged from a hospital.
Doctors woke Mandela up from a nap when Kgalema Motlanthe arrived at the house to visit him Saturday afternoon, Motlanthe's spokesman Thabo Masebe told The Associated Press. From bed, Mandela told Motlanthe he was happy to return home where his friends and family could visit him, unlike in the hospital where visits were restricted.
The 92-year-old Mandela recently spent two nights in a Johannesburg hospital for what his doctor said was a respiratory infection.
"When we arrived to see him, his wife indicated that (earlier) he was sitting in the living room with the family," Masebe said. "The doctor came in the morning, was happy with his condition and left."
Officials have said Mandela's office received more than 10,000 letters of well wishes for Mandela, including from President Barack Obama.
A Johannesburg talk radio station held a small candle-lighting ceremony and asked South Africans to light candles at home to show support for Mandela after he left the hospital. The gesture, promoted by Talk Radio 702, sent positive energy to the former president, affectionately known by his clan name Madiba, event organizer Yusuf Abramjee said.
"We owe it to Madiba and his family," Abramjee said. "Some senior government officials came to me with the idea yesterday, and South Africans latched onto it immediately."
Carmen Reddy of Talk Radio 702 said: "He deserves love and support to show him that South Africans are there. We want Madiba to get well, and this is a great way to show him."
Masebe said Motlanthe will visit Mandela regularly during this period. Doctors said they will continue to monitor Mandela's condition closely, Masebe said.
Mandela became South Africa's first black president after serving 27 years in prison for his fight against racist rule.