Barack Obama said Nelson Mandela’s legacy ‘will linger on throughout the ages’ ahead of his arrival in South Africa today.
The U.S. president paid tribute to the former South African president and called him his ‘personal hero’ amid speculation that he may pay a visit to the Pretoria hospital where Mandela, also known as Madiba, is clinging to life.
Obama is in the middle of a three-country tour of Africa that the White House hopes will compensate for what some view as years of neglect by the administration of America’s first black president.
‘I’ve had the privilege of meeting Madiba and speaking to him. And he’s a personal hero, but I don’t think I’m unique in that regard,’ Obama told reporters in Senegal yesterday.
‘If and when he passes from this place, one thing I think we’ll all know is that his legacy is one that will linger on throughout the ages.’
The White House said it was up to the family to decide if Obama could visit the ailing former president in hospital.