Nelson Mandela National Day of Prayer Held in South Africa

The legacy of the former South African leader is honored.
3:00 | 12/08/13

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Transcript for Nelson Mandela National Day of Prayer Held in South Africa
Now to south africa, where this is a national day of prayer and reflection to remember the former president, nelson mandela. It's a start of a series of events that will lead up to massive funeral in a week. Byron pitts is there. Reporter: The wave of humanity continues here, despite the threat of rain in this, the rainy season. People continue to show up by the hundreds. Each day we see the rainbow that is the now south africa. People of all reledge yons, all colors, all united in the affection for this one man, nelson mandel plap nelson mandela was not a particularly religious man. Today in churches and houses of worship, prayers and song. And in his nation, to move beyond apartheid. To keep his legacy going, we need to keep living what he's set out for us. He was a hero. He fought for us. He suffered for the whole world. Reporter: The mood remains more celebratory and that somber. Overnight, the family spokesman speaking for the first time. In our hearts and souls, he will always be with us. Reporter: Today's national day of brprayer kicks off a week-long semibrags. Mandela made his last public appearance at the 2010 world cup. President obama and the first lady will be there, along with former president george w. Bush and mrs. Bush. Former president jimmy carter. And former president bill clinton and mrs. Clinton are expected at the funeral on sunday. Next sunday, the state funeral in his hometown on the eastern cape. His long-time friend and lawyer, george bizos. He will go down in history, i think, as the revolutionary who didn't believe in violence. Reporter: Earlier today, we had our first public sighting of winnie mandela, his former wife and partner. Today will be quiet. On tuesday, the gatheri iing like the world has never seen before, as dignitaries from around the globe gather to say farewell. Nelson mandela has a large and complicated family tree with over a dozen grandchildren. Some of them opened up to reena ninan on a recent visit to south africa. She's here to tell us about it. Reporter:17 grandkids and three wives. Everyone vying for his time and affection. There is one thing that he did from his prison cell that still brings his family comfort. Set free after 27 years in prison -- his first steps into a new south africa. Reporter: -- But some of his grandchildren found themselves longing for his prison days. Those are the days that i cherish. Because it was just the two of you. Nobody else. Because when he came out, you did not have him because he had bigger issues to tackle. Reporter: His grandson remembers visiting him when he was 4. He asked the wardens they could put cartoons on the tv so me and my cousins could watch them. He offered us hot chocolate. He made it himself. Reporter: While he couldn't physically touch them, his words always did. At the end of the visit, he bought me a box of chocolates with the message being that your visits will always be a bittersweet memory to me. Reporter: Words in the form of letters written to the family from jail. This is one where he was told his son died in a car accident. He said his heart seemed to stop. It was like the blood in his veins was frozen like ice. Reporter: Imparting lessons from his prison cell. Life is about struggles. How he didn't let his life in prison break him. How he kept going. Reporter: His grandson said mandela told the family you have to believe in something more than just yourself. He said he always knew he would defeat apartheid. That kept him going when he was in jail. It worked. Thank you. Let's bring in george stephanopoulos. He'll be talking about mandela on "this week." We were talking about the anti-apartheid movement. So many american politicians and activists cut their teeth in that movement. Including president obama. One of the things we'll look at is mandela's relationship with american presidents. Also once he became a presidt. His work with bill clinton, george w. Bush. He would tangle with presidents. He was very fierce critic of president bush on the issue of the iraq war. But also worked closely with him on the issue of aids. And he was also a great con solar of president clinton in his toughest times of the impeachment trial as well. We're going to look at all that today. Also look at the -- really talk to some people who knew him very, very well. The human rights lawyer who helped draft a constitution of south africa. His pollster in the presidential elections. We're trying to look at the politician and his impact on american politics. Not to take away his accomplishments, but the country is still plagued by problems. Economic and racial. They're coming together for mandela. You have xik enequality. Social inequality. 40% unemployment among young blacks. They know this moment is time for reflection on what they need to do. It's a time for them to unite. George will have much more on all of this later this morning on abc's "this week."

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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