mandela (1)As Nelson Mandela remains hospitalised after undergoing surgery and recuperating from a lung infection, the 94-year-old former president missed the return of his grandson from an initiation ceremony.

Bambatha Mandela had been in the bush for days for the ukwaluka ceremony, learning about the culture and, ultimately, undergoing a circumcision carried out by a traditional surgeon.

Family members had hoped Madiba would be home for the ceremony, but government officials say Mandela remains under care at a hospital in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria.

Mandela, imprisoned for 27 years by South Africa’s former white-ruled government, always lamented the fact he was unable to visit and stay in touch with his family. Family members had hoped Nelson Mandela would be home for the ceremony

Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected president, was admitted to the hospital on December 8, the government has said. At  first, officials said he was undergoing tests and later they acknowledged he had been diagnosed with a lung infection.

The Nobel laureate has a history of lung problems, after falling  ill with tuberculosis in 1988 toward the tail-end of his years in prison before his release and subsequent presidency. While doctors said at the time the disease caused no permanent damage to his lungs, medical experts say tuberculosis can cause problems years later for those infected.

On Saturday, Mandela underwent endoscopic surgery to remove gallstones, a procedure in which a patient usually receives sedatives and an anaesthetic to allow a surgeon to put an endoscope down their throat, authorities say. The surgeon then can remove the gallstones, which are small, crystal-like masses that can cause a person tremendous pain.