Nelson Mandela honored with national day of prayer, remembrance; Chicago marks passing of South African president

December 8, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The world icon died on Thursday and from South Africa to churches in Chicago, people are pausing to remember Mandela's impact.

Sunday many gathered to honor the memory of Nelson Mandala.

Chicago area resident Funeka Sihlali grew up in the same town as South Africa's first black president and was one of them.

"It is amazing that we're still sad, but we cannot be overwhelmed because he's done his part," he said.

Sunday service at Trinity United Church of Christ was dedicated to Mandela.

"And we praise God for delivering such a noble, prophetic prince and moral leader to this world," Pastor Otis Moss said.

As a part of a national day of prayer and remembrance, Bulelwa Sijiyo traveled from South Africa to share the lessons of humility and grace she says President Mandela taught her while she worked as his housekeeper.

"To be humble. Don't just think for yourself but think for other people, too," she said.

Nelson Mandela died Thursday in Johannesburg. He was 95 years old.

"He has given lessons, not only to South Africans, but also to international community," said Kabaro Latlaka, South Africa Consul Politcal.

South Africans mourned the death of their first black president, weeping, singing and gathering near Nelson Mandela's homes and other landmarks linked to him nationwide.

In Soweto Township, where Mandela lived before he was imprisoned for 27 years, giant posters of his face adorned streets. Residents surrounded his former red brick house on a busy street and sang songs of freedom.

At St. Sabina, parishioners paid tribute to Mandela.

Father Michael Pfleger developed a personal connection with the world leader after meeting him.

Sunday afternoon, several stopped by the Harold Washington Library to sign a book of condolence to celebrate his journey for incarceration to inauguration.

"Nelson Mandela was such a powerful figure," said Lisa Nigro. "What I loved about him was that he did all his inner work, so his outer work was so magnificent."

The condolence book will be available at the South African Consulate until Friday.

Messages in the book will be sent to officials in South Africa.

Plans for a memorial service in Chicago will be announced in the next few days.

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