THOUSANDS of East Londoners heeded President Jacob Zuma’s call for a national day of prayer and reflection around East London yesterday.
Clerics and parishioners in various churches around the city prayed for the unity of the Mandela family and South Africa, thanking God for the statesman’s life and legacy.
Following the public declaration by President Jacob Zuma that yesterday be taken as “national prayer and reflection day”, Eastern Cape premier Noxolo Kiviet also urged the religious sector in the province to lead the province in prayer.
“I urge all the people of the Eastern Cape in their individual and organisational capacity, to continue mourning during this difficult time and beyond,” she said.
Speaking at the Methodist Church of South Africa, Circuit 313, yesterday, Professor Amos Mdebuka said the revered statesman’s leadership principles and values mirrored those of the church.
The focus of the prayer service was on Mandela’s Christian life and how the Methodist Church, through its leaders at the Healdtown Wesleyan College near Fort Beaufort, shaped Mandela’s values of humanity, forgiveness, self-sacrifice and charity.
“Mandela should be remembered for his care for humanity and forgiveness. What stands out most about him is his sacrifice for humanity at large even at the expense of himself and his family.
“That’s his great sacrifice. [Mandela’s] contribution was based on Christian principles of forgiveness and unity,” Mdebuka said in an interview with the Daily Dispatch.
He said the Methodist Church continued being a big part of Nelson Mandela’s adult life as Bishop Mvume Dandala had conducted his wedding ceremony to his third wife Graça Machel.
At East London’s Downtown Christian Centre hundreds of people prayed for the Mandela family and their unity.
A parishioner of the Methodist Church Mandisa Kwinana said South Africa was blessed to have had a leader of Mandela’s calibre.
She recalled how Mandela’s release was bitter-sweet for her and her family.
“When he was released on February 11 1990 my mother was in hospital.
“On the Sunday of Mandela’s release we could not move to visit my mother in hospital because of how crowded the streets were.
“When we got there on Monday morning she had just passed away. I sacrificed seeing my mother on her last day and when I think about my mother, I often think of Mandela.”
Rhodes University Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting student Anelisa Mpafa said Mandela’s fight for freedom liberated her as a black woman to choose any career and study in any university she wanted. –– firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com