Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela Reuters

Former South African President Nelson Mandela's condition has deteriorated to critical condition, hospital officials in Johannesburg said Sunday. 

Mandela is suffering with the recurrent lung infection that has plagued him since a 27-year imprisonment for his role as an anti-apartheid leader.

Admitted earlier this month in serious condition for the fourth time in six months, “Madiba” has steadily grown weaker with the passing days. 

On Sunday, doctors told friends and family his condition had worsened.

Now the 53 million-strong nation wonders whether the 94-year-old statesman will rise again from his hospital bed.

Mandela has visited the State of Israel, and is a recipient of an honorary doctorate from Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

In 1990, following his release from prison, "Madiba" rose to even greater prominence than that he had seen during the years of fighting apartheid. Within four years he became South Africa’s first black president, serving a four year term that ended in 1998. He retired officially in 2004, and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's last public appearance was in July 2010.

U.S. President Barack Obama had planned to visit the former South African president during his short visit to the African continent, which begins Friday. 

Obama officials now say any visit will depend on Mandela’s health and the wishes of his family. The plans of the American president, who was preparing to leave on Wednesday, will reportedly be otherwise unchanged.