Mandela in 'good spirits' in the hospital on Christmas

 South Africa's Nelson Mandela "was happy to have visitors on this special day," President Jacob Zuma said Tuesday.

Story highlights

  • President Jacob Zuma says Mandela looks better
  • "The doctors are happy with the progress," Zuma says
  • He was hospitalized for a lung infection on December 8

South African icon Nelson Mandela was in good spirits on Christmas, even though he was in the hospital, President Jacob Zuma said.

"He was happy to have visitors on this special day and is looking much better," said Zuma, who visited Mandela in a Pretoria hospital Tuesday. "The doctors are happy with the progress that he is making."

Mandela, 94, has received round-the-clock care since an acute respiratory infection in 2011. He was hospitalized for a lung infection on December 8; and on December 15, he had successful endoscopic surgery to have gallstones removed.

Mandela, the former South African president, has not appeared in public since the 2010 World Cup hosted in his country.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner spent 27 years in prison for fighting the oppression of blacks in South Africa. He became the nation's first black president in 1994, four years after he was freed.

Nelson Mandela undergoes surgery
Nelson Mandela undergoes surgery


    Nelson Mandela undergoes surgery


Nelson Mandela undergoes surgery 02:21

South Africa last month launched a new batch of banknotes with a picture of a smiling Mandela on the front.

      CNN Recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      North Korea nuclear dream video

      As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
    • Photos: Faces of the world

      Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      How to fix a soccer match

      Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

      It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.