Nelson Mandela visits his rural home village

Former South African President Nelson Mandela Mandela after voting in local elections is flanked by his daughter Princess Zenani Dlamini, left, and granddaughter Ndileka Mandela at in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday, May 16, 2011.

Nelson Mandela's visit to his home village of Qunu in South Africa's Eastern Cape sparked fears that he was preparing for his final days.

It is his first trip to his rural home since he was ill in January and he traveled with military doctors as well as members of his family and security staff. 

South Africa President Jacob Zuma moved quickly to calm fears, saying the fact that Mandela was able to travel indicated he had recovered well from the acute respiratory infection, which saw him spend two and a half days in hospital in January.

Zuma also dismissed suggestions that the trip was unscheduled and prompted by a sudden request by the struggle icon, saying it had been planned for when he had recuperated sufficiently.

"Mr Mandela is spending some time resting at his home in Qunu," Mr Zuma's office said.

It is not yet known how long Mandela will remain in Qunu, which is where many of his relatives still live and close to Mvezo, the tiny village where he was born.

Mandela's home village is rich in rural South African culture, education and traditional leadership that helped get Mandela started on his remarkable life. The rural area also points the way to South Africa's future, as described in the GlobalPost series: Mandela's Village: the road from Qunu.