Valdosta Daily Times

Breaking News:

National, International News

December 9, 2013

South Africans of all faiths pray for Mandela

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — In death, Nelson Mandela unified South Africans of all races and backgrounds Sunday on a day of prayer for the global statesman — from a vaulted cathedral with hymns and incense to a rural, hilltop church with goat-skin drums and barefoot dancing.

Mandela was remembered in old bedrocks of resistance to white domination as well as former bastions of loyalty to apartheid.

“May his long walk to freedom be enjoyed and realized in our time by all of us,” worshippers said in a prayer at the majestic St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, where the first white settlers arrived centuries ago aboard European ships.

South Africa’s reflection on Mandela’s astonishing life was a prelude to a massive memorial in a Johannesburg stadium Tuesday that will draw world leaders and luminaries. They will gather to mourn, but also to salute the achievements of the prisoner who became president and an emblem of humanity’s best instincts.

The extended farewell — a bittersweet mix of grief and celebration — ends Dec. 15, when Mandela is to be buried in his rural hometown of Qunu in Eastern Cape province.

The anti-apartheid campaigner wanted to die in those modest, traditional surroundings; instead, he died Thursday at age 95 in his home in an exclusive Johannesburg area. He was surrounded by family after months of a debilitating illness that required the constant care of a team of doctors.

Family friend Bantu Holomisa told The Associated Press that Mandela wasn’t on life support in his final hours. He appeared to be sleeping calmly but it was obvious that he was finally succumbing, added Holomisa, who said he saw Mandela about two hours before his death.

“I’ve seen people who are on their last hours and I could sense that he is now giving up,” said Holomisa, who is the leader of the United Democratic Movement in parliament.

“You could see it is not Madiba anymore,” Holomisa added, using Mandela’s clan name.

The government and Mandela’s family have revealed few details about Mandela’s death. Ahmed Kathrada, who was sentenced to life in prison with Mandela in 1964, said he was informed shortly before Mandela’s death that his old friend had little time left.

Kathrada said Graca Machel, Mandela’s wife, conveyed the message to him through another person that Mandela “will be leaving us that night” and “the doctors have said, ‘Anytime.”’

The death still came as a shock to many South Africans, so accustomed to the enduring presence of the monumental fighter, even when he retired from public life years ago and became increasingly frail.

“He was more than just an individual soul. He was the exposition of the African spirit of generosity,” said the Rev. Michael Weeder, dean of St. George’s Cathedral.

But he cautioned that the country still has so much to do.

“The strength of the new South Africa will be measured in the distance that the poor and the marginalized travel from the periphery to the center of our society,” Weeder said.

In Johannesburg, hundreds swayed and sang at the Regina Mundi Church that was near the epicenter of the Soweto township uprising against white rule in 1976 and served as a refuge from security forces who fired tear gas around the building and whose bullets have pockmarked the outside walls.

The Rev. Sebastian J. Rossouw compared Mandela to the biblical figures Isaiah and John the Baptist as men who led in dark times, calling him “that moonlight in the dark night.”

God “sent us this man to show us the depths of the human heart, he sent us this man to show us that despite what was going on at the time, light could shine,” Rossouw said. He warned of the flaws of modern life in South Africa, preaching against the “corruption and crime” that plague the country.

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 Johannesburg.

Inside a church behind Mandela’s property in the eastern village of Qunu, where he will be buried, about 50 people held a raucous, celebratory service. A robed man banged on a drum. Clapping men huddled as women danced on the concrete floor.

The Rev. 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.

In an affluent, predominantly white suburb of the capital, Pretoria, parishioners prayed for Mandela at what was once a worship center for pro-apartheid government and business leaders.

A picture of Mandela was beamed onto the wall above the pulpit, highlighting the enormous changes in South Africa, which elected Mandela as its first black president in an all-race vote in 1994.

The Rev. Niekie Lamprecht, pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church of Pretoria East, said Mandela was the driving force behind changes of attitude in the congregation’s overwhelmingly white parishioners.

“He said, ‘Let’s forgive,’ and he forgave. That created a space for people to feel safe ... at a time when the expectation was that there was going to be a war,” Lamprecht said.

Foreign dignitaries began arriving Sunday, and the government said more than 50 heads of state were expected. Those attending include U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

After the stadium memorial on Tuesday, Mandela’s body will lie in state at the Union Buildings, the seat of government in Pretoria, from Wednesday to Friday, followed by the burial in Qunu.

1
Text Only
National, International News
  • AP4507280123 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, July 28, 2014
    Today is Monday, July 28, the 209th day of 2014. There are 156 days left in the year. 
     

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tentative deal reached on VA reform

    The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to fix a veterans’ health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

    July 27, 2014

  • United States-Libya_Rich.jpg US evacuates embassy in Libya amid clashes

    The United States shuttered its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort as fighting intensified between rival militias. Secretary of State John Kerry said “free-wheeling militia violence” prompted the move.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP9607270692 copy.jpg Today in History for Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Today is Sunday, July 27, the 208th day of 2014. There are 157 days left in the year.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • No ticket for Shrek over loud musical, chief says

    A musical being performed in a New Hampshire park has drawn some noise complaints, but the deputy police chief says he’s “not giving Shrek a ticket.”

    July 26, 2014

  • Arizona Execution Dru_Rich copy.jpg Arizona’s McCain: Execution was torture

    U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ukraine Plane_Rich copy.jpg US: Russia firing into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.
    Russia accused Washington of lying and charged Ukraine with firing across the border on a Russian village. It also toughened its economic measures against Ukraine by banning dairy imports.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP7107260254 copy.jpg Today in History for Saturday, July 26, 2014

    Today is Saturday, July 26, the 207th day of 2014. There are 158 days left in the year.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Iraq_Rich copy.jpg Iraq elects new president amid attacks

    Iraqi lawmakers elected a veteran Kurdish politician on Thursday to replace long-serving Jalal Talabani as the country’s new president in the latest step toward forming a new government. But a series of attacks killed dozens of people and Islamic militants destroyed a Muslim shrine traditionally said to be the burial place of the Prophet Jonah, underscoring the overwhelming challenges facing the divided nation.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hong Kong Shutdown_Rich copy.jpg Hong Kong firms on edge as blockade looms

    As activists vow to shut down Hong Kong’s financial district in protest at China’s attempt to hobble democratic elections in the city, businessman Bernard Chan is preparing for the worst.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results