STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
People around the world said prayers on Easter Sunday for former South African president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela. He's in a hospital in the South African capital being treated again for pneumonia. As NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports from Johannesburg, doctors say Mandela's condition is improving.
OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: The giant headline in one South African newspaper says it all: From rural Qunu - Nelson Mandela's country homestead - to the White House, the world prays for Madiba. Fondly known by his clan name, Madiba, Nelson Mandela's health bulletins are being closely followed with compassion by South Africans.
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QUIST-ARCTON: At Regina Mundi Church in Soweto, once a hub of anti-apartheid activity during the struggle for liberation, Easter Day worshippers were praying for their former president and said he must keep fighting.
MARIA TITUNZI: My name is Maria Titunzi. Oh, Father Madiba who's our savior, oh, we feel bad because we take you as a father to us and we are so worried when he's sick. We wish him well, please.
QUIST-ARCTON: Mandela's doctors report a further improvement in his recovery from pneumonia after weekend revelations that excess fluid was drained from his lungs. Frail 94-year-old Mandela suffered from tuberculosis during his long years as a political prisoner. Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj gave this update last evening.
MAC MAHARAJ: The government is satisfied that the doctors are providing the former president with the best medical care possible to enable his recovery and comfort.
QUIST-ARCTON: Nobel peace laureate and the nation's moral conscience, Mandela's pivotal role as an anti-apartheid giant can never be underestimated. South Africans will never forget that he led a peaceful transition out of apartheid and forgave the oppressors. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Johannesburg.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.