The 93-year-old anti-apartheid hero, sitting upright in a chair and surrounded by family at his rural home in the town of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, spoke briefly during the ceremony, saying “I used to be the leader of the ANC” and that he was “happy” to see the flame.
Mandela, who was admitted to hospital in February for a keyhole abdominal examination is now frail and has made few public appearances over the past few years.
The last time he was on television was in October last year when he was filmed at his Johannesburg home filling out a census form.
The man, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping end white-minority apartheid rule, moved back to Qunu this week, where he was born and raised.
Although he stepped down at the end of his first term in office in 1999, South Africa’s first black president still occupies a central position in the psyche of a country ruled by the 10% white minority until all-race elections in 1994.
He spent time in hospital a little over a year ago for treatment of a respiratory ailment. – Reuters