Reporter's Notebook: Waiting outside Mandela's hospital

Fox News

 (Fox News)

It is the 19th day that Nelson Mandela has been in the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria but it could be the first, feeling the emotions of well-wishers coming to the entrance on Celliers Street.

“We are here because Madiba (Mandela’s clan name) gave us hope,” one woman with flowers told Fox News. “He is an icon that will never be forgotten.”

“We are here because of him,” said another young woman. “He meant something to all of Africa.”

A white woman with two small children and tears streaming down her face added,“ It was a different country with Mandela. And I’m scared it won’t be the same.”

The spokesman for South African President Mac Maharaj confirmed to Fox News the news Zuma broke Sunday night: The anti-apartheid icon had taken a turn for the worse. He was now in critical condition.

It seemed to give an added a sense of urgency to the wave after wave of singing and chanting Mandela supporters who filled the street outside the hospital.

Some were old enough to know the years of apartheid oppression that Mandela fought against.  Some were just a few years young, with their whole life ahead in a new South Africa that Mandela helped create.

But among most there was a feeling of resignation, that finally this man who had given so much for his country would be soon ready to give up.

People wanted to come to the hospital and pose next to the sign, seemingly to be a part of history. 

Amid the sadness, there was celebration, too, of the man and what he stood for: reconciliation, peace, democracy.

Greg Palkot currently serves as a London-based senior foreign affairs correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 1998 as a correspondent. Follow him on Twitter@GregPalkot.