South Africa gives thanks to Mandela in Day of Prayer

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Sunday is a day of prayer in South Africa as the country enters a week of mourning ahead of the state funeral and burial of Nelson Mandela.

The father of the nation will be remembered up and down the country, in the cities and the sparsely-populated countryside, in chapels and churches and meeting halls.

The faltering ruling ANC party may seek to make some political capital out of this week of mourning, but it appears the Mandela mystique is specific and only works for him; none of the man’s popularity is rubbing off on a party that many think has been in power for too long and is only rewarding its supporters.

For this reason the ANC has until now not tried too hard to recuperate the event, although that may change as the week unfolds.

Mandela’s family will play a big part in the coming days. His grandchildren are taking on public events, of which there are several between now and the burial next Sunday.

Bishop Desmond Tutu has held a memorial service in Johannesburg, and memorial services will be held daily at different locations around South Africa until Mandela is laid to rest.

Being the weekend, sporting events have included tributes for the president whose passion for sport helped unite the nation around the 1995 rugby World Cup victory.

The showcase memorial service will be held on 10 December in Johannesburg Soccer City, the 2010 football World Cup final venue.

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