Remarkable People

ID #5268

Nelson Mandela 10 Marriage and Family.

Mandela has been married three times, has fathered six children, has twenty grandchildren, and a growing number of great-grandchildren. He is grandfather to Chief Mandla Mandela.

First marriage

Mandela's first marriage was to Evelyn Mase who, like Mandela, was from the Transkei.  The couple divorced in 1957 after 13 years because of his constant absences, devotion to revolutionary agitation and because she was a Jehovah's Witness -- a religion which requires political neutrality. She died in 2004. The couple had two sons, Thembekile (Thembi) (1946–1969) and Makgatho (1950–2005), and two daughters, both of whom were named Makaziwe Mandela (born 1947 and 1953 respectively). Their first daughter died aged nine months, and they named their second daughter in her honour. All of their children were educated at the United World College of Waterford Kamhlaba. Thembi was killed in a car crash in 1969 while Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island. Makgatho died of AIDS in 2005, aged 54.

Second marriage

Mandela's second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, also came from the Transkei, although they met in Johannesburg, where she was the city's first black social worker. They had two daughters, Zenani, born in 1958, and Zindziswa Mandela-Hlongwane, born in 1960. Zindzi was 18 months old when her father was sent to Robben Island. Later, Winnie would be deeply torn by family discord which mirrored the country's political strife. While her husband was in prison, her father became agriculture minister in the Transkei. The marriage ended in separation and divorce (March 1996).

Mandela languished in prison when Zenani married Prince Thumbumuzi Dlamini, elder brother of King Mswati III of Swaziland in 1973. Although she has memories of her father, the authorities did not permit her to visit him from the age of four until sixteen. The Dlaminis live and run a business in Boston.  One of their sons, Prince Cedza Dlamini, has followed in his grandfather's footsteps as an advocate for human rights and humanitarian aid.  Zindzi made headlines when she read Mandela's speech refusing his conditional pardon in 1985. She is a businesswoman with three children.

Third marriage

Mandela remarried Graça Machel on his birthday in 1998. She was the widow of Samora Machel, the Mozambican president who was killed in an air crash. Mandela maintains a home at Qunu in the realm of his nephew, whose university expenses he defrayed and whose privy councilor he remains.

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Last update: 2014-03-02 21:54
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.2

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