News / Africa

South Africans Offer Prayers for Madiba

Across South Africa, Worshipers Pay Tribute to Mandelai
December 08, 2013 7:10 PM
People across South Africa flocked to places of worship Sunday to honor the memory of former President Nelson Mandela. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from Johannesburg, it was a chance for quiet reflection ahead of a week of special events leading up to the funeral (December 15) for the man known as Madiba.
Related video report by Henry Ridgwell from Johannesburg
Mourners across South Africa heeded President Jacob Zuma’s call to take time to worship and pray Sunday for the late president Nelson Mandela. At temples, mosques, synagogues and churches across the country, there were prayers for the man many South Africans refer to as Tata, or father.

At the Regina Mundi Roman Catholic Church in Soweto, early risers attended a 7 a.m. mass.

Parishioner Caroline Thakadu, a school administrator in Soweto, goes to the church each Sunday. She offered prayers for Mandela and South Africa.

"For our country I would ask God, to give us strength and unity and peace that Madiba, was, stood for. And people that are coming after him must behave the way he behaved. People mustn't look for what is for themselves. They must work for nation as he did. That is what we are asking for… May his soul rest in peace and there must be unity in South Africa," she said.

The church was a key meeting place for activists during the anti-apartheid struggle. Its sanctuary includes a stained glass window showing Mandela waving both hands in the air.

Thakadu said she was happy Mandela was no longer struggling in poor health.

"Tata Madiba, I feel relieved and I feel happy for his spirit, because now he's resting, everybody was suffering. So for that, that God has made this day, that he must rest, we are happy about that. But as Christians we know that after death there's life," she said.

Sunday morning worship service at the Melrose Temple, a Hindu temple in Johannesburg. The service is dedicated to the memory of former South African President Nelson Mandela. (Peter Cox/VOA)Sunday morning worship service at the Melrose Temple, a Hindu temple in Johannesburg. The service is dedicated to the memory of former South African President Nelson Mandela. (Peter Cox/VOA)
Sunday morning worship service at the Melrose Temple, a Hindu temple in Johannesburg. The service is dedicated to the memory of former South African President Nelson Mandela. (Peter Cox/VOA)
Sunday morning worship service at the Melrose Temple, a Hindu temple in Johannesburg. The service is dedicated to the memory of former South African President Nelson Mandela. (Peter Cox/VOA)
Just north of Mandela's home in Houghton, the Melrose Hindu Temple held Sunday services, which temple trustee Gopal Thangavel Padayichie dedicated to Mandela's memory.

"We're hosting this particular prayer and service in the name of the great world icon and gracious man. The most noblest of all. We're holding this prayer in his memory, and we pray to Lord Muruga that he grants his soul peace forever," said Padayichie.

In the early 1990s, Nelson Mandela came to this Hindu place of worship in Johannesburg to offer a prayer on a day he was going in for a cataract operation.

He signed the temple's register book and told temple leaders to come visit his office for a donation. They obliged, and he stepped out of a meeting to speak with them.

"That was the greatest day of my life to meet a man of that caliber," he said.

Padayichie later learned that Mandela had twice used the temple as a hiding spot in Johannesburg during the 1960s before he was tried and incarcerated for trying to overthrow the apartheid government.

  • Nelson Mandela smiles for photographers at his home in Johannesburg September 22, 2005.
  • Nelson Mandela and his then wife, Winnie, salute well-wishers as he leaves Victor Verster prison on Feb. 11, 1990.
  • This undated photograph shows Nelson Mandela and his former wife, Winnie.
  • South African State President Frederik Willem de Klerk and Deputy President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela prior to talks, Cape Town, May 2, 1990.
  • Nelson Mandela, is seen as he gives the black power salute to 120,000 ANC supporters in Soweto's Soccer City stadium, Feb. 13, 1990.
  • Then-African National Congress President Nelson Mandela salutes the crowd in Galeshewe Stadium near Kimberley, South Africa, Feb. 25, 1994.
  • Nelson Mandela and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II ride in a carriage outside Buckingham Palace on the first day of a state visit to Britain, July 9, 1996.
  • President Nelson Mandela and Britain's Prince Charles shake hands alongside members of the Spice Girls, Nov. 1, 1997.
  • Former U.S President Bill Clinton and former South African President Nelson Mandela speak during a Gala night in Westminster Hall, London, July 2, 2003.
  • Oscar winning South African actress Charlize Theron weeps at her meeting with former South African President Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, March 11,2004.
  • Nelson Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, wave to the audience during a Live 8 concert in Johannesburg, July 2, 2005.
  • Nelson Mandela jokes with youngsters as they celebrate his 89th birthday at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in Johannesburg, July 24, 2007.
  • Former South African president Nelson Mandela, center, followed by his grandson Mandla Mandela, rear right, arrives at the ceremony in Mvezo, South Africa, April 16, 2007.
  • Nelson Mandela waves to the media as he arrives outside 10 Downing Street, London, August 28, 2007.
  • Nelson Mandela waves as he arrives to attend the 2010 World Cup football final Netherlands vs. Spain on July 11, 2010 at Soccer City stadium in Soweto.
  • Nelson Mandela poses for a photograph after receiving a torch to celebrate the African National Congress' centenary in his home village Qunu, May 30, 2012.

Vishnu Ramjith, another member of the Melrose Temple, said Mandela was on his mind through the day.

"I've just come from his house now, where we lit a candle and a clay lamp. ….People are just laying wreaths, paying tributes. They are not mourning. They are celebrating," he said.

Ramjith said his faith compelled him to celebrate Mandela's life, rather than mourn the former president's death.

"In Hinduism, we say look, we believe in reincarnation, and we know that a good soul has taken birth somewhere else. There will be other Mandelas born and obviously you will find - like they say, history repeats itself. There will be Mandelas somewhere, sometime, in some other place in the world that will bring salvation to our troubled planet," he said.

After the sadness of Mandela’s passing, most South Africans are sharing that sentiment.

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This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 09, 2013 12:32 AM
Reincarnation is a good idea. Yes, he must be going to have another life somewhere and sometime in the world.

by: Charles McCray from: Nipomo
December 08, 2013 12:22 PM
My prayers are for his family, & the world. We will NEVER see another man like Nelson Mandela. He did more for the world than anyone in history, in spite of the injustice put upon him.

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