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The news of the hospitalisation of living-legend Nelson Mandela has sent shock-waves through the world with users on major social networks posting their well-wishes and expressing concern. Earlier this week, the former South African president was admitted to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg with a collapsed lung.
Twitter has kept the vigil for Mandela’s speedy recovery and didn’t take long to become an international trend on the social network. Still trending worldwide, and expected to trend for some time still, messages of love and good health are being tweeted under the “#Madiba” hashtag.
Twitter trends are automatically generated by an algorithm that attempts to identify topics that are being most talked about in 95-million daily tweets.
Users on Twitter and Facebook worldwide have begun changing their avatars to pictures of the former president to show their support and solidarity.
Nic Dawes, Mail & Guardian editor, referred to the social media vigil yesterday as “the whole of South Africa [sitting] in the waiting room”. Several tweets affirm this, as South Africans watch their Twitter feed for the next wave of news.
Acting president Kgalema Motlanthe called for calm, saying “Medically there is no need to panic. Mandela suffers from ailment common to people of his age.”
This was confirmed when news broke on Friday that Mandela would be discharged and receive home-based care, which according to the Surgeon General “will be equal to the care he has received in hospital”. The Surgeon General spoke at the press conference with acting president Motlanthe assuring the public that Mandela is in good spirits.
South African politicians and celebrities also tweeted their messages of concern:
Leader of the Democratic Alliance @helenzille expressed her party’s feelings on Twitter yesterday. Tweeting: “On behalf of the DA, I wish Madiba a speedy and healthy discharge from hospital. Our thoughts are with him and his loved ones.”
Popular South African radio celebrity @DJFreshSA sent out this emotional tweet yesterday: “Just drove past Milpark Hospital! Media Contingent still strong! Please let #Madiba be OK!”
Springbok rugby captain @JohnSmit123 tweeted: “Be strong Madiba, this rainbow nation is praying for you. God bless.”
@LindiMazibuko, a DA member of parliament in North Durban tweeted: “loves how @twitter has changed the face of breaking news.”
@GarethCliff, another popular radio DJ had this to say to Madiba: “Tata’ Madiba… We hold you in light and love.”
International music sensation Josh Groban also tweeted his heartfelt message to Madiba:
Journalists have kept an eye on the situation, keeping the public updated with their tweets:
Eye Witness News journalist @MandyWiener tweeted from Milpark: “#Madiba Motlanthe and Surgeon General of the army to address press briefing at the hospital at midday today.”
Daily Maverick writer @phillipdewet tweeted “If you haven’t caught it yet, midnight statement from the Presidency that #Madiba is in good spirits, has lung problem. Details around noon.”
The official Twitter account of the @TheCapeArgus tweeted: “Kgalema Motlanthe and the Surgeon General are due to hold a press conference at 12.30pm today to discuss latest on Mandela. #madiba”
Beeld news editor @waldimar tweeted: “#madiba Press conf due to start. Ambulance arrived at partition at hospital entrance. Seats reserved inside for Mandela family, ANC chiefs.”
Members of the public have kept their tweets up since learning about the hospitalisation:
@percyzvomuya criticised the media in this tweet: “This stampede to be first to get the #Madiba story is bizarre;it’s not like newspapers & (the TVs) haven’t done their Mandela supplements.”
“…Please pray for Nelson Mandela who is in hospital right now. God bless #Madiba!” tweeted @EddieN120.
@LeratoTJ had this to say about the government statements that have been issued about Madiba’s health: “Telling us not to panic about #Madiba is daft, it’s like telling a 16 year old not to panic about the fact that their father is in ICU.”
@rayjoe had some harsh criticism for the Mandela Foundation: “Dear #Mandela Foundation your silence on #Madiba borders on arrogance. You are the caretakers of his heritage, not the owners.”
@Murrayingram wrote “Let’s honour our nations father by living as he would have us live. Heroes show us the way. #madiba is love.”
An audible sigh of relief could be heard across Twitter as news of Mandela’s discharge was announced:
@Bookhan_chick tweeted her relief: “Such a big relief to know Mr Mandela’s in good health and spirits..still in my prayers though.”
@Koshy46 tweeted: “NELSON MANDELA IS OK!!!!!!! Ahhh I’ve never felt such relief!! Stay strong Tata Madiba, South Africa is praying for you.”
The news of Mandela’s hospitalisation comes only weeks after a distasteful hoax proclaiming Mandela had died, using the hashtag “#RIPNelsonMandela”, which immediately trended on Twitter over the weekend.