Zindzi Mandela, South African activist and ambassador, dies at 59

JOHANNESBURG – Zindziswa Mandela, the youngest daughter of Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who found her own voice as an activist and poet, died on Monday in Johannesburg. She was 59 years old.

His death, in a hospital, was announced by Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa. He did not provide a cause of death.

Better known by her abbreviated name, Zindzi, Ms. Mandela served as South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark upon her death. She was at her home in Johannesburg waiting for her next shipment to Liberia, the president said.

His death occurred a few days before Nelson Mandela Day on July 18, an annual celebration celebrated on his birthday. He died in 2013. His funeral will likely be limited to 50 people, in line with South Africa’s coronavirus blockade, authorities said.

Born on December 23, 1960 in the Soweto Township of Johannesburg, Mandela was 18 months old when her father was arrested and convicted of sabotage and treason. She was 3 years old when she was sentenced to life in prison on Robben Island, on the west coast of South Africa.

At age 12, he wrote to the United Nations, urging him to intervene to protect his mother, an anti-apartheid activist, from South African authorities.

“I am writing this letter to you because if my mother wrote, you may not have [received] because most of his letters to his friends do not reach them, “wrote Mrs. Mandela in 1973.” Mom’s family and friends fear creating an atmosphere for something terrible to happen to mom. “

When, in 1977, the apartheid government banished Ms. Madikizela-Mandela to Brandfort, a city more than 400 kilometers from Johannesburg, they sent her with her.

He later attended a boarding school in neighboring Swaziland and received a law degree from the University of Cape Town. Soon after graduating, she became her father’s emissary. South African President PW Botha had offered to release Mr. Mandela on the condition that he be confined to the semi-independent territory of Transkei, which had been established by the White administration of the National Party for Black Inhabitants. Mr. Mandela rejected the offer, and his daughter delivered that message to the Botha government.

In February 1985, when the armed struggle against apartheid intensified and the municipalities of South Africa began to resemble war zones, Ms. Mandela addressed hundreds of people in Soweto on behalf of her imprisoned father and her exiled mother. ,

“The prison authorities tried to prevent this statement from being made, but he did not want to do any of this and made it clear that he would make this statement to you people,” Mandela told the crowd.

That was the time when Ms. Mandela took up her activist role, said Lindiwe Sisulu, a cabinet minister and daughter of anti-apartheid activist Walter Sisulu, who was jailed alongside Mandela.

“In her own right, she was a fighter and, if she could, she would have been away in military training, but she had a mother to take care of,” Sisulu told the South African Broadcasting Corporation hours after Mandela’s death. Announced.

As a member of the Free Mandela campaign, Ms. Mandela was recruited as a clandestine agent for uMkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress, the leading anti-apartheid movement, according to her official biography.

Ms. Mandela’s perspective on life under apartheid was captured in her anthology of poetry “Black as I Am”, published in 1978. In a poem, “A tree was cut down,” recalls a shattered family, writing: ” and the fruit was scattered / I cried / because I had lost a family / the trunk, my father / the branches, his support “.

Mrs. Mandela’s own life was marked by tragedy. In 1990, she buried her partner, the father of one of her children, on the same day that the apartheid state announced Mandela’s release from prison. In 2010, her 13-year-old granddaughter died in a car accident after attending a concert for the FIFA World Cup.

“I didn’t have a good life,” said Sisulu, referring to Zindzi Mandela as a little sister. “To me, she is a tragic figure.”

In recent years, even as a diplomat, Mandela could be a vocal critic of South African politics. “Dear apartheid apologists, your time is up,” he wrote on Twitter in June 2019 amid a national debate on land reform in South Africa, where white farmers continued to control most of the land even after the end of apartheid. . “You will not rule again. We are not afraid of you. Finally #TheLandIsOurs “.

The Afrikaner lobby group, AfriForum, filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights accusing it of racism. She refused to back down, then posted: “I am not responsible to any white man or woman for my personal opinions.”

In February, he tweeted his dismay that FW de Klerk, the former president of South Africa, was allowed to attend the State of the Nation Address after commenting that all of South Africa’s problems cannot be attributed to apartheid. Mandela said he was “heartbroken” by Mr. De Klerk’s justification for his actions, and published a photograph of his mother being dragged away by police and soldiers in 1991.

Ms Mandela was married twice, first to a businessman, Zwelibanzi Hlongwane, in 1992 and in 2013 to Molapo Motlhawa, a veteran of the armed wing of the African National Congress.

He is survived by his four adult sons, his daughter Zoleka Mandela and his sons Zondwa Mandela, Bambatha Mandela and Zwelabo Mandela. His older sister Zenani Dlamini is South Africa’s ambassador to South Korea.