President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama met privately with Nelson Mandela’s family in Johannesburg today.
According to the New York Times, the Obamas planned to visit the 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero however his family opted against the meeting as he’s hospitalized with a lung infection. The White House deemed the visit appropriate and decided to act in accordance to the Mandela family wishes.
“I don’t need a photo-op, and the last thing I want to do is to be in any way obtrusive at a time when the family is concerned with Nelson Mandela’s condition,” President Obama said. “Right now, our main concern is with his well-being, his comfort, and with the family’s well-being and comfort.”
After meeting with Mandela’s children and grandchildren, the commander-in-chief said South Africa’s “historic transition to a free and democratic nation has been a personal inspiration to me.”
“I expressed my hope that Madiba draws peace and comfort from the time that he is spending with loved ones,” he said. “I also reaffirmed the profound impact that his legacy has had in building a free South Africa, and in inspiring people around the world — including me. That’s a legacy that we must all honor in our own lives.”
“Despite how revered he was,” Obama added, Mandela understood that government must be “bigger than just one person, even one of the greatest people in history. What an incredible lesson that is.”
Sources say the former South African president is still in critical condition.