March 28 - U.S. President Barack Obama says he's keeping Nelson Mandela in his prayers after learning the former South African leader was hospitalized. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. president Barack Obama expressed concern for former South African president Nelson Mandela on Thursday (March 28), who was admitted to the hospital for treatment of a recurring lung infection "Obviously, we're all deeply concerned about Nelson Mandela's health," said Obama, after a meeting with the leaders of Sierra Leone, Senegal, Malawi and Cape Verde. "He's a hero I think to all of us. I'm sure that I speak for the other leaders here. And we will be keeping him in our thoughts and prayers, and his entire family." Obama called Mandela a "inspiration" and praised him for his leadership and unflagging commitment to the South African people. "We all recognize that he has given everything to his people, the people of South Africa, and to the people of the continent, and he's ended up being an inspiration to all of us," said Obama. "When we think of a single individual that embodies the kind of leadership qualities that we all aspire to, the first name that comes up is Nelson Mandela." The 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader is renowned at home and abroad for spending 27 years in prison fighting the last bastion of white rule in Africa and then promoting the cause of racial reconciliation. Mandela was briefly hospitalized earlier this month for a check-up, and spent nearly three weeks in hospital in December with a lung infection and after surgery to remove gallstones. That was his longest stay in hospital since his release from prison in 1990 after serving almost three decades for conspiring to overthrow the white-minority apartheid government. Mandela has a history of lung problems dating back to when he contracted tuberculosis as a political prisoner.