JOHANNESBURG — Schoolchildren in Nelson Mandela's home village sang in his honor and others left balloons and well wishes outside the hospital where he has been treated for eight days.
On Saturday, Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela, said his grandfather was recovering from the lung infection.
"Madiba is recovering very well and looks good," Mandla Mandela said in Qunu, a village in the Eastern Cape province where Mandela was born and spent his early years.
There was no recent official word on Mandela's condition, though the government said late Thursday he was improving though remained in serious condition. In a statement, members of the Cabinet wished the revered anti-apartheid icon a quick recovery and said they were "pleased that he is responding well to treatment".
The 94-year-old former president was admitted almost a week ago for a pulmonary condition that has plagued him for years.
At Mandela's childhood school in Qunu, children in bright blue uniforms sang in his honor Friday. Others have gathered to pray outside the Pretoria hospital where he is staying.
On Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma had told the country that after "a difficult last few days" Mandela was "responding better."
This is Mandela's fourth hospitalization since December for a pulmonary condition that has plagued him for years.
A small group of people held a candlelight vigil overnight outside the private clinic in Pretoria where the Nobel peace laureate was admitted almost a week ago.
Many interpret the Cabinet's announcement as good news after anxiety over Mandela's condition. But public joy at his apparent improvement was tempered by distrust of official announcements on his health.
Members of Mandela's family, known for frequent internal feuding, have visited him regularly in a public display of unity.
On Thursday, his daughter Zindzi visited the statesman briefly.
His wife Graca Machel has been at his bedside almost constantly since calling off a trip to London last week.
His eldest daughter Zenani, who is South Africa's ambassador to Argentina, as well as his daughter Makaziwe and his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela have visited him almost daily.
The family was "deeply touched" by worldwide support, his grandson and clan leader Mandela Mandela said Wednesday.
Mandela spent 27 years in prison during white racist rule, walking free in 1990 before becoming South Africa's first black president four years later.
The latest health scare has led to a growing acceptance that Mandela, who turns 95 in July, may be nearing the end of his life.
He has a long history of lung problems since being diagnosed with early-stage tuberculosis in 1988 while in prison.
Friends have spoken of his failing memory, a far cry from the sharp-witted dancing statesman celebrated in films and cartoons over the world.
In December, he underwent surgery to remove gallstones as he recovered from a lung infection. Then in March he was admitted for a scheduled overnight check-up.
Two months ago he was discharged after treatment for pneumonia. Mandela has not been seen in public since the World Cup final in South Africa in July 2010.
He appeared frail and distant in a video released by ruling party the African National Congress, when its leader Jacob Zuma visited Mandela.
© AFP 2013