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On the evening of December 6, following news of the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela the previous day, SGI-South Africa (SGI-SA) held a prayer meeting at its national center in Johannesburg.
On December 8, responding to a call from the government for a national day of prayer and reflection to remember Mr. Mandela, SGI-SA held a second prayer meeting. After the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the offering of incense, participants shared their thoughts and memories of the former president. Among these was an SGI member, Douglas Myamya, who was imprisoned together with Mr. Mandela on Robben Island and recalled him urging fellow inmates to study and develop themselves while in prison. A poetry reading was also included, and participants sang well-known Mandela-related songs.
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s statement on the passing of Mr. Mandela was read out and an account of the relationship between the two was also given. Mr. Ikeda and Mr. Mandela met twice in Tokyo, first in October 1990, following Mr. Mandela’s release from prison, when he visited Japan as vice president of the African National Congress (ANC), and again in 1995 when Mr. Mandela visited Japan as president of South Africa. Mr. Ikeda’s suggestion at the initial meeting to develop a human rights exhibition in Japan highlighting the struggle of the South African liberation movement was the genesis of SGI’s international activities for the promotion of human rights education.
The prayer service provided an opportunity to share and unite in the deep sense of appreciation for Mr. Mandela’s contributions and the profound sense of loss at his passing.
On December 16, a national interfaith prayer ceremony was held at Freedom Park in Pretoria marking the Day of Reconciliation, a national public holiday in South Africa promoting reconciliation and national unity. SGI-SA leaders were invited to represent South Africa’s Buddhist community at the event.
related article Lotus Sutra Exhibition Debuts in Malaysia On February 16, "The Lotus Sutra – A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence" exhibition created by the SGI-affiliated Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) opened for the first time in Malaysia at Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM)'s Wisma Kebudayaan culture center in Kuala Lumpur. The interfaith prayer ceremony was attended by Deputy President of South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe, Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile and the City of Tshwane Executive Mayor Kgosientso David Ramokgopa. SGI-SA General Director Loren Braithwaite Kabosha and several other SGI-SA members participated in the ceremony. Representatives from African traditional religious communities as well as from Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Rastafarian, Bahá’í, and Hare Krishna faiths were also present.
The ceremony was held at Isivivane, a sacred space within Freedom Park that is regarded as the spiritual resting place of those who died in the struggle to liberate South Africa. The various religious leaders offered prayers and brief messages of reconciliation. The SGI-SA representatives chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and read a message recalling former South African President Nelson Mandela’s great efforts for national reconciliation and affirming the will of ordinary South Africans to continue his legacy.
[Adapted from reports from SGI-South Africa; photos courtesy of SGI-SA]
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