Two minutes of prayer, reflection or silent meditation
PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday evening called on citizens to observe prayer, reflection or silent meditation on Thursday, just hours before South Africa enters a 21-day lockdown to curb the coronavirus.
“The president has, following discussions with religious leaders, called on citizens to observe two minutes of prayer, reflection or silent meditation on Thursday 26 March 2020 between 18:00 and 18:30 hours,” said Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko.
Diko said Ramaphosa believed this was the moment for citizens to act together “as one patriotic nation” in solidarity with those affected by Covid-19 locally and globally.
“These are challenging times. We are traversing a path we have never travelled before. There are many amongst us who are fearful, uncertain and vulnerable. I call on our people to offer a prayer and a thought for the protection and healing of our land and its people from this disease,” Ramaphosa said.
“Over the past two weeks, South Africans from all walks of life have demonstrated their resilience by complying with the restrictions that have been placed on their lives. Because we are in a state of national lockdown our prayers must be offered from our hearts and in our homes,” he added.
The national day of prayer comes in response to a proposal made by interfaith leaders who met with the president last week to express their support for the national effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
National prayer days have been held in a number of countries this week, including parts of the US, UK, the Philippines, Kenya, Mexico and Italy.
“The international occurrence of the coronavirus pandemic has affirmed yet again that the challenge we face is a global one and one we cannot overcome alone,” Ramaphosa said.
“I call on all our people, whether they are religious or not, wherever they are, on Thursday the 26th of March to observe a moment of silence in a show of social solidarity.”
The president said the nation’s thoughts should be with those in hospital, quarantine or self-isolation.
“In observing this national day of prayer we also want to send a message of hope to our brave and patriotic health care workers who are on the frontline and helping to save lives, with our emergency personnel, police, traffic officers and military, and with all those who are working tirelessly to keep us safe, healthy and alive.
“The media has been exemplary in keeping our people well-informed about the work of government in dealing with this pandemic,” Ramaphosa added.
He said the hardships imposed by a national lockdown were considerable.
“The coming weeks will sorely test our resolve and patience. For millions of South Africans for whom faith is a source of hope and courage, this difficult time must strengthen and unite us as never before.”
The president called on citizens to demonstrate their solidarity with fellow South Africans by displaying the South African flag on social media (#PrayForSouthAfrica), outside their homes and other prominent places as an act of compassion and unity during the national lockdown.