Johannesburg, 27 November 2017. Thousands of South Africans from all walks of life gathered at
Soccer City on Sunday 26 September 2017 to observe a National Day of Prayer, aimed at uniting the
country’s various faith communities to find solutions to South Africa’s social and other challenges.
In a faith-driven but very festive atmosphere, at least 60 000 people packed into the country’s national
stadium, and infused it with an atmosphere that even a major football tournament might struggle to
The event, which was the first of its kind, is an initiative of the Motsepe Foundation in partnership
with South Africa’s diverse faith-based organisations. The Motsepe Foundation has been honoured
and privileged over the years to have worked and built relationships with the respected representative
faith-based organizations in South Africa, and the national day of prayer is a progression from the
development of those relationships.
The Motsepe Foundation believes that religious and faith-based organizations have, at various times
in the history of South Africa, prayed and brought South Africans together to deal with grave
challenges and problems of the time, and that these organizations should unite yet again to confront
the country’s contemporary challenges.
Leading to the day, there have been previous discussions between the Motsepe Foundation and
Religious and Faith-Based Organizations concerning the serious problems facing all South Africans,
as well as the need to hold a National Day of Prayer, the purpose of which is to:
– pray for the unity of all South Africans of all races and languages;
– pray for the poor, unemployed and marginalized;
– pray for God’s guidance, leadership and blessings for a bright future for all South
Deputy chairperson and CEO of the Foundation, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, said the Foundation
was “very happy” with the way the day had gone, and its success would encourage them to continue
with the initiative in the future.
“People came from all over the country. They came in busloads as early as yesterday. Many slept over
here to make it into the stadium in time. We’ve very happy with the turnout and the message. ”
Dr Moloi-Motsepe said the National Day of Prayer was a natural culmination of the work the
Foundation has been doing for some 10 years, as well as a demonstration of its foundational
“The Foundation is anchored around the desire and goal of ending poverty, in South Africa and across
the continent. All our actions are aimed at this, from our bursary and other education schemes, to
hunger-alleviation initiatives. We also help churches and schools rehabilitate their infrastructure as
well as care for the children and congregants that gather in them. To that end, how do we partner with
religious organisations, traditional leaders, and other centres of leadership in our society to confront
the challenges of poverty and suffering?”
Dr Moloi-Motsepe points out that the Foundation has been engaged with faith-based organisations for
a decade, to harness their power to confront the country’s challenges.
“We’ve been meeting with the religious community every year, to take stock of how they use the
support we give to them to improve lives, but we haven’t done anything like this before.
“We’ve been thinking of uniting the traditional and faith communities for a while now, and asking
ourselves: what more can we do? The answer is to unite everyone. We all believe in one God, even if
we pray differently. As South Africans, what unites us more than anything else is our faith.”
As part of a prayer week leading up to the official National Day of Prayer, representatives from the
Motsepe Foundation and certain religious and faith-based organizations have visited and prayed at
various venues across the country. The day itself was attended by the following organizations, among
The Presbyterian Christian Apostolic Church
The Zion Christian Church
The Salvation Army
United Apostolic Church
St John’s Apostolic Churches
Greek Orthodox Church
African Methodist Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church
SA Council of Churches
Union of Orthodox Synagogues
Jamiat Ulama of South Africa
Muslim Judicial Council
South African Hindu Maha Sabha
Ethiopian Episcopal Church
Bantu Church of Christ
Dutch Reformed Church
Nazareth Baptist Church
Unity of purpose
The overwhelming theme from the leadership of the various religious groups was the need for unity in
South Africa. They were keen to commend the Motsepe Foundation for the initiative.
“An event of this nature is long overdue. It is an event that looks to help us transcend all barriers.
South Africans are faced with common issues. It’s an honour for us that the Foundation has invited us
to take part. We believe that through faith, God will intervene in all our problems,” said Maulana
Adam Feltman of the Northern Cape Ulama Council.
His words were echoed by Rabbi Dovi Rabin of the United Orthodox Synagogues (UOS).
“On behalf of South African Jews, we feel a sense of honour and privilege to be participating in this
event. We thank the Foundation for the opportunity.
“We are here to pray for the unity of the South African people, because with unity there is nothing we
cannot do. Our country is at a crossroad, and there is no telling which way things will go because out
problems are real. But it remains a country of incredible potential. I believe the maximum amount of
unity can be achieved, and when that happens we can fulfil our potential.”
Rabbi Rabin said he was deeply optimistic about the prospects of South Africa to become a united,
prosperous, successful country.
“The future is bright for all South Africans. But for us to go forward as a nation, we must all be one.
This is a great start. It is important to come together as all faiths. We are one in the spirit of God.”
Archbishop Modiri Patrick Shole, of the South African Union Council of Independent Churches, said
the day would be successful if it achieved the goal of bringing wisdom to the country’s political
“The government needs prayers. Political leadership needs prayers. The problems of social cohesion
cannot be solved without the involvement of God.”
Many of the political leaders the Archbishop was targeting were there to hear his message. The day
was attended by political leaders from across the spectrum.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma,
DA Leader Mmusi Maimane, Congress of the People President Mosiuoa Lekota, ANC treasurer
general Zweli Mkhize, and Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu were all at the stadium. So
too was Floyd Shivambu of the Economic Freedom Fighters and Speaker of the National Assembly
and ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete.
In addition, prominent South African kings and traditional leaders attended the National Day of
Prayer. Others came from across the subcontinent. Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini and representatives
of the Swazi royal house were among the dignitaries.
In his prayer, Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane of the Zion Christian Church, echoed the calls for inter-
“Churches have often existed in an environment of conflict and unnecessary rivalry between
denominations, in the face of problems such as poverty, unemployment and inequality. All too often
we forget that even if we belong to different denominations, we pray to one God, and all expect
answers from one God.”
The thousands who gathered, many draped in the colourful dress of their churches and denominations,
were entertained by the very best of South Africa’s gospel artists. South Africa’s doyen of gospel,
Rebecca Malope, entertained the crowds before proceedings got under way, and the ZCC Brass Band
kept participants on their feet throughout the day.
“It’s a happy day. A day to be united as all South Africans. A day to rediscover the idea of the
Rainbow Nation,” said Inkosi Phakama Shembe of the Nazareth Baptist Church.
“The Motsepe Foundation has been helping faith-based organisations for 10 years. This is a great
development from that.”
Dr Moloi-Motsepe however, was keen to stress that leadership and control of the initiative would not
lie with the Foundation, but with the country’s faith communities. “We will meet with the religious
leadership in February. Only at that time will we really assess the success of the initiative. We’ll be
guided by that assessment on how we go, whether we should make this an annual occurrence. We
may have started it, but this is an initiative that results from the guidance and leadership of our
traditional and faith leaders.”
According to Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police
Department, the day went without a single incident.
“We had enough officers to handle the increased traffic volumes, and not a single incident or
disturbance was reported anywhere. It’s been a smooth operation, both in terms of traffic and people
About the Motsepe Foundation
The objectives of the Motsepe Foundation are to alleviate poverty and sustainably improve the living
standards of the poor, the unemployed and the marginalised people of South Africa.
The Foundation focuses on initiatives and projects that will assist the beneficiaries to become self-
sustaining and independent.
We are committed to promoting non-racialism in South Africa; by respecting diversity and
encouraging people of all races, faiths and cultures to join hands towards the development of South
Africa and the rest of Africa.
We work with and encourage Governments on the African continent to develop economies that
support efforts aimed at addressing poverty, education, inequality, unemployment and improving