, JOHANNESBURG, Dec 8 – President Jacob Zuma on Sunday made an impassioned plea for South Africans to honour Nelson Mandela’s legacy by embracing his values of unity, freedom and justice.
“We should pray for us not to forget some of the values that Madiba stood for, that he fought for, that he sacrificed his life for,” Zuma told a special prayer service at a Methodist Church in Johannesburg for the democracy icon who died on Thursday.
Key among these was Mandela’s quest for a free, equal society, its people reconciled with one another after decades of racial oppression, he said.
“When our struggle came to an end, he preached and practised reconciliation, to make those who had been fighting to forgive one another and become one nation,” Zuma told hundreds of mourners packed into the church on a national day of prayer called to mark the life of the Nobel laureate.
“He preached and believed in peace, that we should live in peace, that we should live in unity, we should be united as a Rainbow Nation,” Zuma said.
“He believed in caring and he cared for our nation. He believed in forgiving and forgave, even those who kept him in jail for 27 years.”
Mandela showed the world how people who had once warred against one another can transcend their differences and unite, the president said.
“We should exercise these if we were to remember him,” Zuma added. “If we remember him with these values and things he believed in, we would have done a lot.”
Mandela’s eldest grandson, Mandla, sat in the front pew with the former president’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.