Millions of South Africans gathered Sunday at churches, mosques, synagogues and community centers around the country to celebrate Nelson Mandela's life, news sources reported.

 

“That was the time when I felt like crying. I had tears in my eyes,” said retired teacher Liz Magubane, who joined hundreds at the Mandela memorial at Regina Mundi church in Rockville, Soweto, which was a key place in the Soweto township uprising of 1976 against white rule, the Los Angeles Times reported.

 

The Rev. Sebastian J. Rossouw said at the Regina Mundi gathering that Mandela was like "moonlight" and that he gave a guiding light to South Africa, the Washington Post reported.

 

A large group of global dignitaries and royalty also began to make their way to South Africa to pay their respects to the country's first black president, the Washington Post reported. 

 

Tuesday's national memorial service and state funeral is projected to be one of the largest services in modern times, with 53 government leaders and a number of prominent people expected to attend, the Washington Post reported. 

 

South African President Jacob Zuma joined Mandela's ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and one of his grandsons, Mandla Mandela, at a memorial service in Johannesburg, the Washington Post reported.

 

“We felt it important that we should have a day where all of us as South Africans can come together and pray for our first democratic president and reflect on his legacy,” Zuma said, the Washington Post reported. "But it is also to pray for our nation . . . to pray that we not forget some of the values he fought for," he said, the Washington Post reported.