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Tuesday, July 9, 2013 - 12:32am
El Paso, TX (KDBC) — Former South African President, Nelson Mandela has now spent a month in the hospital and his condition is said to remain "critical but stable."
And even when he passes, one local expert says Mandela's legacy will continue.
He endured enormous suffering for the freedom of a nation, in a time when historians say racial segregation clenched South Africa with an iron fist.
"Right into the 1980s, it really seemed as if the apartheid regime was impregnable, that it might never change," said Dr. Charles Ambler, history professor at UTEP.
Mandela spent 27 years behind bars in a struggle for equality, but even while in prison, his message inspired South Africans -- the catalyst that sparked opposition to the racist apartheid rule.
He was released in 1990 and became that country's first black president four years later.
"The struggle for not just freedom, but for economic, social, political, and cultural rights," said Dr. Ambler.
Now, after a month of being hospitalized for a recurring lung infection, experts say the ailing 94-year old Mandela is nearing the end of his life.
"His funeral certainly will be an occasion for a gathering of world-leaders and an outpouring of grief, and an outpouring of sentiment," said Dr. Ambler.
Dr. Ambler says it's Mandela's journey, and not his end, that will continue to have the greatest impact on the world because his message of unity is relevant, indefinitely, to generations within and beyond South Africa.
"Beliefs are important, struggle is important, hard-work for your beliefs is important, and in the end, it can make an enormous difference," said Dr. Ambler.
Mandela was admitted to the Pretoria Hospital June eighth.
Well-wishers continue to gather daily to hold prayer services and vigils -- others have left cards and flowers outside the hospital gates.
Mandela's family members including two grand-daughters visited him Monday.