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South Africans hold day of prayer for anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela


Mourners attend an early morning church service in memory of Nelson Mandela at the Regina Mundi church, which became one of the focal points of the anti-apartheid struggle, in Soweto, Johannesburg, People in South Africa are taking part in a day of "prayer and reflection" for late President Nelson Mandela. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (The Associated Press)

South Africans flocked to houses of worship for a national day of prayer and reflection to honor former President Nelson Mandela, starting planned events to commemorate the liberation struggle icon that will culminate in what is expected to be one of the biggest funerals in modern times.

A national memorial service for the man who, as the country's first black president, forged a new multiracial South Africa after helping to dismantle apartheid, will be held at a Johannesburg stadium on Tuesday.

His body will lie in state at the Union Buildings, the seat of government, in the nation's capital, Pretoria, from Wednesday to Friday, followed by his funeral and burial in the village where he spent his childhood in a remote rural part of the country next Sunday.