As the Mandela family mourned the passing of Zindziswa Mandela on Monday 13 July 2020, the Nelson Mandela Foundation revealed that it was also on this day that Nelson Mandela’s son Thembekile died back in 1969.
Zindziswa “Zindzi” Nobutho Mandela was born on 23 December 1960 in Soweto to South African struggle icons Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. It would be 18 months after her birth, in 1962, that her father Nelson Mandela was to be imprisoned and eventually sentenced to life in prison at Robben Island after the conclusion of the Rivonia Trial in 1964.
She went on to live with her mother Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who in 1977 was banned by the apartheid government to Brandfort in the Orange Free State Province for eight years. This naturally deprived Zindzi of a normal upbringing and education. However, she was sent to Swaziland(Eswatini) where she finally finished her secondary education. In 1985 she earned her BA Law degree at the University of Cape Town. It was also the very same year that she read her father’s refusal speech directed at then Prime Minister of South Africa P.W. Botha in relation to his early conditional release.
Zindzi served as deputy president of the Soweto Youth Congress, was a member of the Release Mandela Campaign, was recruited as an underground operative of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). She worked with the communities of Weilers/Orange Farm to launch the first ANC branch with struggle leader Walter Sisulu in the 1990s, and served in the MK Veterans’ Association in the Lesley Moatshe branch. Zindzi was currently serving as South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark.
Greta Apelgren, of Austerville, a member of the ANC and Mkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association, said;
“Zinzi Mandela, like most children of anti-apartheid leaders, suffered emotional strain from separation from her father the late Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison as a “Freedom Fighter”. From a young age, she was actively involved with young people campaigning against the system of apartheid which hurt millions of South Africans emotionally and economically. She was very close to her mother, the late Winnie Mandela, and assisted her in her community projects in Soweto to provide emotional and financial support to poor families. My heartfelt condolences goes out to the Mandela family”.
By: Lorraine Richards