Editor’s note: Robyn Curnow, CNN’s Johannesburg correspondent, had an exclusive interview with Nelson Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe, who was born in 1953 to Mandela’s first wife, Evelyn. It’s the first time a family member has given an interview since the former president was admitted to hospital.
(CNN) – The eyes of the world are upon Nelson Mandela, the ailing former South African president and vanguard of human rights who was reported in critical condition Sunday evening. But for daughter Makaziwe Mandela, this is not a global event but a deeply personal and precious time for a daughter with her beloved father.
“All we do every day is take one day at a time and pray to the good Lord,” Makaziwe told CNN’s Robyn Curnow.
She said her father was at peace, and the family hoped for a peaceful transition into the spiritual realm.
“All I pray for as a daughter is that the transition is smooth. … He is at peace with himself. He has given so much to the world. I believe he is at peace.”
Some of that peace eludes the family, however, as they deal with the intense media spotlight.
“With all of this media frenzy, the camping in the hospital, you know people talking about things they don’t know or understand basically. Other people want to lecture us on how we should behave, what we should do.
“Really? It’s our dad. It’s the children’s grandfather. We’ve never had him in our life for better part of our years. This is in a sense quality and sacred time for us, and I would expect the world to really back off and leave us alone
“Nelson Mandela’s blood runs through these veins. Our veins. Give us the space to be with our father. Whether these are the last moments with us to be with our dad or there is still a longer. But they must back off.”
Before it was announced that her father was in critical condition, Makaziwe spoke to his medical condition and state of mind.
“They haven’t stopped treating him with all the best medicine in the world. He still opens his eyes … the touch is there.”
She also addressed how much medical treatment her father should receive.
“In our culture, the Tembu culture, … you never release the person unless the person has told you: ‘Please my children, my family, release me.’ My dad hasn’t said that to us.
“So these people who want to talk about, you know, release him, he hasn’t said we should release him and we haven’t come to the end yet. It is only God who knows the end.”