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General News of Sunday, 8 December 2013

Source: BBC

Mandela death: 'Day of prayer' in South Africa

Thousands of South Africans are expected to take part in a day of "prayer and reflection" for late President Nelson Mandela.

President Jacob Zuma will attend a service in a Methodist church in Johannesburg, with other multi-faith services planned throughout the day.

A national memorial service will be held on Tuesday, ahead of a state funeral on 15 December.

South Africans have been holding vigils since Mr Nelson Mandela died on Thursday.

President Jacob Zuma urged South Africans to go to stadiums, halls, churches, temples or synagogues on Sunday to remember their former leader.

"We should, while mourning, also sing at the top of our voices, dance and do whatever we want to do, to celebrate the life of this outstanding revolutionary who kept the spirit of freedom alive and led us to a new society. Let us sing for Madiba," he said, using Mr Mandela's clan name.

Mr Mandela's successor as president, Thabo Mbeki, will attend a service at the Oxford Shul synagogue in Johannesburg in the afternoon.

Other senior politicians and ANC officials will go to services across the city, and the country.

Although crowds have already been out in many towns and cities, the government and the ANC want to make more scattered communities feel more intimately involved, the BBC's James Robbins reports from Johannesburg.

The focal points for public remembrance have so far been Mr Mandela's house in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton and his old home in Soweto, with mourners lighting candles and laying thousands of wreaths of flowers.

Mr Mandela's body will lie in state on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the heart of the South African government in Pretoria.

Members of the public have been encouraged to line the route and form a "guard of honour" when his remains are taken to the site.

A funeral cortege bearing his body is to travel through the streets of Pretoria for three consecutive days before his burial next Sunday.

On Saturday it was announced that US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend Tuesday's memorial service, along with three other former US presidents, George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

One government minister has predicted the 95,000-seat stadium being used for the event will be overwhelmed, and promised that overflow areas would be set up.

On Saturday his family gave their first public statement since his death, describing the difficulty of the past two days and the week ahead.

Family spokesman Lt Gen Matanzima likened the late president to a baobab tree that had provided shade and protection to the Mandela family.

Announcing further details of the state funeral arrangements on Saturday, the government said that the late president's body was being prepared by the military health service before it lay in state.

On Sunday, 8 December, a national day of prayer and reflection across the country to celebrate Mr Mandela's life and legacy

Tuesday, 10 December is the day for South Africa's official memorial service at the FNB Stadium on the outskirts of Johannesburg, which will attract world leaders as well as ordinary South Africans

Between 11-13 December, "selected international visitors and guests" will be able to view Mr Mandela's remains at the Union Buildings in Pretoria

His body will be transported on Saturday, 14 December, from Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria to the Eastern Cape, with a procession from the airport at Mthatha to his home village of Qunu where a traditional ceremony will be held.

A funeral service will take place at Qunu on Sunday, 15 December

Qunu is where Mr Mandela grew up and later retired to.

Flags at all official buildings are to remain at half mast throughout the period and books of condolence are being circulated across the country and online for people to post tributes, record memories and express their emotions.

A government statement recalled the former president's own thoughts when asked how he wished to be remembered.

"It would be very egotistical of me to say how I would like to be remembered," Mr Mandela said.

"I'd leave that entirely to South Africans. I would just like a simple stone on which is written, 'Mandela'."

Tributes to Mr Mandela have come from leaders, celebrities and members of the public around the world.

US President Barack Obama said Mr Mandela "achieved more than could be expected of any man".

Pope Francis said Mr Mandela had forged "a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth".

The former South African leader spent 27 years in jail before becoming the country's first black president in 1994.

He served a single term before stepping down in 1999.

Mr Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 along with FW de Klerk, South Africa's last white president.

He suffered repeated bouts of ill health and since September had been receiving treatment at home for a recurring lung illness.

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