[USA Today]

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Will native son and national hero Nelson Mandela survive his latest bout with illness?

That is the single question dominating headlines, speeches, Twitter and conversation throughout South Africa.

It’s an unusual situation in a country where death is an off-limits topic due to local culture. But as locals brace themselves, anxious and hopeful, they remain stoic and protective, insisting on Mandela’s privacy as he battles a lung infection.

And they say he has a right to be left alone.