Nelson Mandela on Day After ReleaseNelson Mandela, popular in South Africa as Madiba, has recovered from a lung infection and surgery to remove gallstones that kept him in hospital for nearly three weeks, the government said today.

The 94-year-old former South African president, who has been in frail health for several years, spent most of December in a Pretoria hospital – his longest stay for medical care since his release from prison in 1990. He has been receiving treatment at his Johannesburg home since leaving hospital on the 26th of December last year.

“President Mandela has made steady progress and clinically he continues to improve,” the South African presidency’s office said in a statement. He has recovered from his surgical procedure and the lung infection, it said, citing his medical team.

Nobel peace prize laureate Mandela has a history of lung problems dating back to when he contracted tuberculosis as a political prisoner. He spent 27 years in prison, including 18 years on Robben Island, off Cape Town.

Mandela became South Africa’s first black president after the first all-race elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid.