Mandela: South Africa’s living saint

CNN_IVAN WATSON
Sunday, June 30, 2013 - 7:44pm

Mandela's frail health hasn't been far from president Obama’s mind during his visit.
As the 94-year old remains in critical condition, South Africans have been celebrating his life.
They come on foot to pray.

In a small church in Qunu, the hometown of nelson Mandela, It is here, beside the ruins of the chapel where South Africa’s most famous son was baptized, that his country-men and women pray during what may be what many believe to be the last chapter of Mandela’s life.

Worshippers here say they're heart-broken that South Africa’s first black president is so sick.
 

"I wish him a speedy recovery. And get well soon. And come back to his people not only for own but for the whole world," said Mandissa Bida, Churchgoer.
 

On the same Sunday morning in Johannesburg, more than 500 miles to the north, South Africans gathered in a very different chamber, for a very similar prayer.
 

"As you know that the nation and the whole country will continue to pray for our former president Nelson Mandela, our icon our hero,” said Pastor Giet Khosa, Rhema Church
 

The pastor leads a congregation of thousands.
 

"Father we thank you lord as we come before you as a church, as a nation, to lift our former president, our icon. The symbol of unity and peace around the country. And we say lord, thank you that your grace is upon him," said Pastor Khosa.
 

For some South Africans, Mandela’s long weeks in hospital, have inspired moments of introspection.
 

"This morning it dawned upon me that he really is the person that looked fear in the eye, just as the service was about, he looked fear in the eye, he looked the people in the

eye, mostly us white people in the eye and said hey let's come and go build a better country than it was before," said Web Designer Francois du Toit.
 

For others, concern about the future.
 

"I pray that somebody takes the baton from him. Because he's done it so effortlessly. And I hope that the person who continues his work does so with the kind of integrity, with

the kind of heart that he put into everything that he did," said Nurse Lillian Barnwell.
 

Nearly 20 years after Mandela became South Africa’s first black and first democratically elected president.
 

He is being celebrated as a symbol of this country's unity.
 

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