South Africans pray for Mandela
Updated: 2013-12-09 00:54
A woman folds her hands in prayers next to candles standing outside the house where Nelson Mandela died in Johannesburg, December 7, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
JOHANNESBURG — South Africans of all races flocked to houses of worship Sunday for a national day of prayer and reflection to honor Nelson Mandela, unified in their love for a historic figure whose funeral is expected to be one of the biggest in modern times.
South Africans hold day of prayer for Mandela Associated Press South Africans remember Mandela with praise and prayers Reuters Quotes from South African sermons honoring Mandela Associated Press South Africa remembers Mandela with day of prayers Reuters South Africa unites in prayer and song for Mandela AFP At the Regina Mundi Church that was near the epicenter of the Soweto township uprising in 1976 against white rule, Father Sebastian J. Rossouw described Mandela as "moonlight," saying he offered a guiding light for South Africa. Hundreds of people attended the Mass.
"Madiba did not doubt the light," Rossouw said. "He paved the way for a better future, but he cannot do it alone."
During the service, worshippers offered special prayers for the anti-apartheid leader and lit a candle in his honor in front of the altar. Off to the side of the sanctuary was a black and white photo of Mandela, who died Thursday at age 95.
Mandela's ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, joined one of his grandsons, Mandla Mandela, and South African President Jacob Zuma in a prayer service in a Methodist church in Johannesburg.
"We felt it important that we should have a day where all of us as South Africans can come together and pray for our first democratic president and reflect on his legacy," Zuma said. "But it is also to pray for our nation ... to pray that we not forget some of the values he fought for."
Zuma said Mandela had forgiven even those who had kept him in prison for 27 years, and that he had opposed both white and black domination.
Inside a small, hilltop church behind Mandela's property in the eastern village of Qunu, where he will be buried next Sunday, about 50 people held a raucous, celebratory service. A man in a blue robe set the tempo by banging on a goat-skin drum. Men, clapping, formed a tight huddle as mostly barefoot women danced on the cement floor in a circle around them.
Joshua Mzingelwa, the leader of Morians Episcopal Apostolic Church, delivered a loud, throaty sermon.
"There is still hope in the hardship that you are facing daily," Mzingelwa told the congregation.