Mandela: South Africa Urged To Unite As Tribute

President Jacob Zuma has urged South Africans to unite as the "rainbow nation" and remember the values Nelson Mandela stood for, as the country marks a day of "prayer and reflection" to honour the late icon.

It comes as Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Queen will be represented by the Prince of Wales at Mr Mandela's funeral on December 15.

President Zuma was speaking today at a service at the Bryanston Methodist Church in Johannesburg, where he was joined by Winnie Madikizela Mandela, the former statesman’s second wife. 

Dressed in black, she was seated next to Mr Zuma and was clearly grief stricken in her first public appearance since Mr Mandela’s death.

Addressing the congregation the South African President urged his country to remember that Nelson Mandela stood for freedom, reconciliation and unity. 

"He believed in caring and he cared for our nation. He believed in forgiving and he forgave those who kept him in jail for 27 years," Mr Zuma said.

South Africans have gathered in churches, synagogues and mosques across the country to join the tributes to the country’s first black president ahead of a week of official celebrations and memorial services.

At the famous Regina Mundi Church in Soweto, Father Sebastian J. Rossouw described Mr Mandela as "moonlight," saying he offered a guiding light for South Africa.

Hundreds of people attended mass in the small church that still bears the scars of the conflict.

"Madiba did not doubt the light," Father Rossouw said. "He paved the way for a better future, but he cannot do it alone."

On Tuesday, a memorial service will be held at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, the place where Mr Mandela made his last public appearance at the World Cup final in 2010. 

At least 80,000 people are expected to attend, including President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron.

From Wednesday, crowds will line the streets in Pretoria as a funeral cortege carries the remains of the nation’s first black President to lie in state at the Union Buildings, where people will be permitted to file past his body to pay their respects. 

The procession will be repeated for three days with the public urged to form a "guard of honour".

The focus will then switch to Nelson Mandela’s ancestral home of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, where the state funeral will be held on Sunday.

Mr Obama will again attend, along with hoards of other world leaders, joining the Mandela family in a public tribute before a private burial service.

Nelson Mandela left it to the South African people to decide how to celebrate his life and legacy.

He said once when asked how he wished to be remembered: "It would be very egotistical of me to say how I would like to be remembered. I'd leave that entirely to South Africans. I would just like a simple stone on which is written, ‘Mandela'."

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