South Africans appeared resigned on Monday to the inevitability of one day saying goodbye to former president Nelson Mandela after the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader's condition in hospital deteriorated to critical.
Madiba, as he is affectionately known, is revered among most of South Africa's 53 million people as the architect of the 1994 transition to multi-racial democracy after three centuries of white domination.
However, his latest hospitalisation - his fourth in six months - has reinforced a realisation that the father of the post-apartheid 'Rainbow Nation' will not be around for ever.
President Jacob Zuma told a news conference he and African National Congress (ANC) Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had visited Mandela late on Sunday night.
Zuma declined to give specific details about his medical condition other than to say he remained critical.
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"Given the hour, he was already asleep. We saw him, looked at him and then we had a bit of a discussion with the doctors and his wife," Zuma said. "I don't think I'm a position to give further details. I'm not a doctor."
U.S. President Barack Obama is due to visit South Africa this week as part of a three-country Africa tour, but Zuma said Mandela's deterioration should not affect the trip.
"Nothing is going to stop the visit because Madiba is sick," Zuma said.