Prayers offered and tributes paid to Nelson Mandela

Fri 06 Dec 2013
By Sarah McAllister

World leaders and church leaders have been paying tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Tributes are pouring in for Nelson Mandela who died at his home in Johannesburg last night, surrounded by his family.

South Africa's first black president was 95 and had been struggling with a lung infection for some time. Announcing his death, current President Jacob Zuma said his country has lost its "greatest son".

Reacting to the news, Barack Obama said: "We've lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth."

David Cameron also gave a statement outside Downing Street last night saying: "One of the brightest lights of our world has gone out". He also described Mr Mandela as "not just a hero of our time, but a hero of all time."

Archbishop Desmond Tutu who campaigned with him said: "We are relieved that his suffering is over, but our relief is drowned by our grief." Revd Dr Mary-Anne Platjies-Vanhuffel is the moderator at the Uniting Reformed Church of Southern Africa.

Speaking to Premier's Tulika Pandey she gave this tribute to him.

It's been announced Sunday will be a day of prayer and reflection with special church services taking place across the country. Ndaba Mazabane is a pastor in Johannesburg and the Chair of the World Evangelical Alliance. He told Premier's Marcus Jones on the News Hour there's something he'd like all churches to do.

Crowds have gathered to sing and dance as they celebrate Nelson Mandela's life outside his home in Johannesburg. Nastsha Perterson is there and has been describing the scenes to Premier Gospel's Yinka.

Pope Francis has also today paid tribute. He said: "It was with sadness that I learned of the death of former President Nelson Mandela, and I send prayerful condolences to all the Mandela family, to the members of the Government and to all the people of South Africa.

"In commending the soul of the deceased to the infinite mercy of Almighty God, I ask the Lord to console and strengthen all who mourn his loss. Paying tribute to the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation's citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth, I pray that the late President's example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations.

"With these sentiments, I invoke upon all the people of South Africa divine gifts of peace and prosperity. Michael Cassidy - the founder of Christian organisation African Enterprise - told Premier's News Hour his passing leaves a huge hole.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has offered a prayer. Most Revd Justin Welby said: "We pray for his family, for his friends and for his country.

"We are challenged to show the same degree of humanity, of courage and of generosity."

The Archbishop of York has also written a prayer marking the life of Nelson Mandela.

Dr John Sentamu said: "Gracious Father, You gave up your Son out of love for your world: Look with mercy on Madiba Mandela; And on all your children in South Africa. As they reflect on Christ's Death and Resurrection, may they know eternal peace through the shedding of our Saviour's blood, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Very Revd Michael Weeder is the Dean of Cape Town. He tells Premier's Marcus Jones how Christians there will be marking his passing.

In the UK, several churches have opened their doors for people to pay their respects.

Westminster Abbey says its flag is flying half-mast and has confirmed it will host a Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of Nelson Mandela.

Southwark Cathedral - which was reopened by Nelson Mandela in 2001 - held prayers at 'Mandela Porch'. Dean of Southwark Very Revd Andrew Nunn told Premier's Marcus Jones on the News Hour more about it.

Canon Chris Chivers is the vicar at John Keble Church in London but met Nelson Mandela while Canon Precentor at St George's Cathedral in Cape Town. He tells Premier's Marcus Jones his impressions of him.

Cameron Arendse was held up in the air by Nelson Mandela - in the Grand Parade in Cape Town shortly after his release from prison on Robben Island. He tells Premier's Marcus Jones his memories of that event.

Church groups from across the world have been paying tribute. Right Revd Lorna Hood, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland said: "Nelson Mandela was a towering figure of the 20th century whose strength, courage and determination are only matched by his grace and ability to forgive."

The Revd Ruth Gee, President of the Methodist Conference, said: "Nelson Mandela is regarded as one of the fathers of Africa. "His persistent way of standing up for justice has inspired Africans and the world at large."

Steve Clifford is the General Director of the Evangelical Alliance and his organisation supported the anti-apartheid movement. He told Premier about what he'll remember most about Nelson Mandela.

South Africa is to take part in ten days of mourning with a special service expected to take place in a football stadium where almost 100,000 could gather.

Miles Giljam is from the South Africa Christian Leadership Initiative. He tells Premier's Tulika Pandey he's hoping his death will spark something positive in young South Africans. His body has been taken to a military hospital in Pretoria. Jacob Zuma has announced he will receive a full state funeral and flags will remain at half-mast until after the burial.

The funeral will take place on Sunday 15th December in Qunu the village where he grew up. Before that, a memorial service will take place on Tuesday in a 95,000-seater stadium in Johannesburg. Nelson Mandela was born in 1918 in the Eastern Cape and after becoming a political activist faced several different charges before being sentenced to life for sabotage in 1964.

In 1990 he was freed from Robben Island Prison, won the Nobel Peace Prize three years later, then became President between 1994 and 1999. He retired from public life five years later.

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