Mandela released from hospital, wife says 'God is listening'

(Photo: Reuters / Michael Kooren)Former South African President Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel wave to the crowd at Soccer City stadium during the closing ceremony for the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg July 11, 2010. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

Before former South African president Nelson Mandela was released from the hospital at the weekend, his wife Graca Machel said God was listening to the nation's prayers.

Machel was speaking at a ceremony near Johannesburg where she received the Fethullah Gulen Peace and Dialogue Award from the Turquoise Harmony Institute, an interfaith cultural organization, for her work in "ubuntu and dialogue."

"I want to take this opportunity to thank every single citizen of this country, of Africa, of the world who has been praying and sending their best wishes to Madiba. Thank you very much for lifting him up. God is listening," said Machel.

Madiba is Mandela's traditional clan name, to which he is often referred by South Africans.

Machel arrived on Thursday after the beginning of the ceremony, coming straight from the hospital where she was visiting her husband who was still in hospital .

Mandela was discharged after spending nine days in hospital, the presidency in South Africa said Saturday.

"Former president Nelson Mandela has been discharged from hospital today, April 6, following a sustained and gradual improvement in his general condition," the spokesperson for President Jacob Zuma, Mac Maharaj said. "The former president will now receive home-based high care."

Mandela was admitted to hospital on March 27 with pneumonia.

Since then the 94-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who the first South African president under universal suffrage, has had fluid drained from his lungs to ease his breathing.

Mandela has battled from lung ailments before, fighting off three bouts of lung infection since 2011.

According to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1988, after he had been transferred out of Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison, whilst jailed for fighting racist rule in South Africa.

He received treatment for lung ailments in December last year.

To help him breathe without difficulty, doctors last week drained excess fluid that had built up in his lungs.

Speaking about her prize Machel said, "I would like to put this into context.

"Any award is not about the individual. It is about a journey; in my case, a journey in which millions of people have touched my life.

"From the time I was minister of education, I learned to experience the joy of a child discovering the joy of learning. I shared the joy with them.

"I also shared pain when children for no reason are caught up in the pain of conflict. I cried with mothers. I cried with the children themselves. It made me very humble."

She described activism as "raising voices for those who do not have an opportunity to speak to those who hold power."

Machel said, "I take this award on behalf of those women and children."

‚ÄčEach year, the Turquoise Harmony Institute hands out awards to individuals and organizations whose work has upheld principles of dialogue and tolerance.

The Institute promotes the work of Turkish cleric and author, Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim scholar, and has set up a number of schools and educational trusts in South Africa.

Graca Machel she attended Methodist mission schools in Mozambique before gaining a scholarship to the University of Lisbon in Portugal. T

There she studied German and first became involved in independence issues. She is also fluent in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and English, as well as her native Tsonga.

Mandela's treatement has evoked strong debate in South Africa, where many fear the death of the freedom icon, but others say his life should be celebrated and he should be allowed to die peacefully and naturally.

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