Obama’s ties to Mandela loom over S. Africa visit

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Inspired by Nelson Mandela’s struggles in South Africa, a young Barack Obama joined campus protests in the U.S. against the racist rule that kept Mandela locked away in prison for nearly three decades.

Now a historic, barrier-breaking figure himself, President Obama arrives in South Africa Friday to find a country drastically transformed by Mandela’s influence — and grappling with the beloved 94-year-old’s mortality.

It was unclear whether Mandela’s deteriorating health would prevent Obama from making a hospital room visit. The former South African leader is said to be in critical condition.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One as he made his way to Johannesburg, Obama said he would gauge the situation when he arrived.

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