JOHANNESBURG, South Africa-- South Africa's Nelson Mandela, who was spending Christmas in the hospital recovering from serious illness, was in good spirits and looking much better, President Jacob Zuma said Tuesday.
He said Mandela immediately greeted him, shouting out Zuma's clan name, Nxamalala.
Zuma visited Mandela, along with Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, and other members of the Mandela family.
“We found him in good spirits. He shouted my clan name, Nxamalala, as I walked into the ward!" Zuma said in a written statement Tuesday. "He was happy to have visitors on this special day and is looking much better."
Mandela, South Africa's first black president, was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 8 for a lung infection and later underwent surgery for gallstones. South African authorities last week said his condition was serious on admission.
But Zuma said Tuesday that doctors were happy with Mandela's progress. Zuma thanked the public for its support and prayers.
“The Mandela family truly appreciates all the support they are receiving from the public. That is what keeps them going at this difficult time," Zuma said.