Jacob Zuma: Pray that we don’t forget Mandela’s values

2013-12-08 14:03

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President Jacob Zuma has urged South Africans not to forget the values Nelson Mandela stood for.

Speaking to 700 congregants during a televised Methodist church service held in honour of the late elder statesman in Bryanston, Joburg, Zuma said Mandela preached peace and unity in the “rainbow nation”.

Among those who attended were Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Mandla Mandela, Dali Tambo and Oprah Winfrey’s partner, Stedman Graham.

Describing the passing of “the father our country” as “unprecedented”, Zuma thanked citizen for honouring his call to come together and reflect on Mandela’s legacy and to pray for the country.

“There’s a number of things as a nation we need to remember ... we should pray for us not to forget a number of the values that Madiba stood for, that he fought for, that he sacrificed his life for.

“We should include those in our reflections. He stood for freedom. He fought against those who oppressed others. He wanted everyone to be free,” he said.

Zuma said Mandela actively took part in the removal of oppression, and had preached and practised reconciliation when the liberation struggle ended.

“He preached and believed that we should live in peace, that we should live in unity and should be united as the rainbow nation,” Zuma said.

He also said Mandela believed in caring and forgiveness.

“These are some of the values we should reflect on and therefore pray for our nation that we should exercise these if we were to remember him. And thank God that he gave this son of this country who distinguished himself for good things,” he said.

He said the prayers across the country would go a long way towards healing South Africa.

The mood at the church was sombre yet jovial, perhaps a reflection of people who were celebrating a life well lived rather than mourning one. As the congregants left the church, they sang two of Nelson Mandela’s mother’s favourite Methodist hymns, including Thixo awunangqaleko” (God has no beginning).

Ziphozihle Silwa, the presiding bishop of the Methodist church in Southern Africa, invoked a traditional saying that “the living close the eyes of the living, and the dead open the eyes of the living” to explain Mandela’s role in the nation.

He said Mandela would open our eyes together with the dead saints who had passed before him.

“This is an opportunity for us to unite.

“Once again, God has given us an opportunity at the departure of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela to unite towards goodness ... let’s grab it with both arms,” he said.

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