International peace icon and former South African President Nelson Mandela is recovering from his recent ailments, current President Jacob Zuma said Sunday. Mandela was admitted to 1 Military Hospital for almost three weeks for a lung infection and gallstones before his release Dec. 26. The 94-year-old leader is receiving care at his home in Houghton, outside of Johannesburg, according to the statement released by Zuma’s administration.
The statement said Mandela is active, reading newspapers and receiving visitors. In January of 2011, Mandela was diagnosed with a respiratory infection and spent two days in the hospital. During his most recent stay, he underwent minor surgery to remove gallstones, prolonging a hospital visit that began with treatment for the recurring lung infection.
Mandela spent much of last year in Qunu, the village of his boyhood. The Eastern Cape village is led by Mandla Mandela, Nelson’s grandson, and a member of Parliament for the African National Congress. While in Qunu, Mandela is spared much of the media scrutiny surrounding his health and quality of life.
In recent years Mandela has increasingly withdrawn from public life. His last appearance on the international stage was at the 2010 World Cup, in Johannesburg. Regarded as the father of modern South Africa, Mandela is affectionately known as Madiba, his Xhosa clan name. Mandela was the country’s first democratically elected president, chosen after 27 years as a political prisoner.
Though he served just one term as president, Mandela is celebrated as the greatest leader in South Africa’s history, and was one of the motivating factors behind the end of apartheid discrimination in the country. News of his healthy recovery will quell the fears of countless South Africans who wish his condition to continually improve.