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South Africans hold day of prayer for Nelson Mandela


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"There is still hope in the hardship that you are facing daily," Mzingelwa told the congregation.

In an affluent, predominantly white suburb of the capital, Pretoria, parishioners prayed for Mandela at what was once a worship center for pro-apartheid government and business leaders.

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A picture of Mandela was beamed onto the wall above the pulpit, highlighting the enormous changes in South Africa, which elected Mandela as its first black president in an all-race vote in 1994.

The Rev. Niekie Lamprecht, pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church of Pretoria East, said Mandela was the driving force behind changes of attitude in the congregation’s overwhelmingly white parishioners.

"He said, ‘Let’s forgive,’ and he forgave. That created a space for people to feel safe ... at a time when the expectation was that there was going to be a war," Lamprecht said.

Foreign dignitaries began arriving Sunday, and the government said more than 50 heads of state were expected. Those attending include U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

After the stadium memorial on Tuesday, Mandela’s body will lie in state at the Union Buildings, the seat of government in Pretoria, from Wednesday to Friday, followed by the burial in Qunu.

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Torchia reported from Cape Town, Gambrell from Johannesburg, Straziuso from Qunu, and Clendenning from Pretoria. Ray Faure in Johannesburg also contributed to this report.




Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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