Mandela’s youngest daughter, Mama Zindzi, dies at 59

Mama Zindzi Mandela, youngest daughter of late South African Icon and ex-President, Nelson Mandela.

Mama Zindzi Mandela, South Africa’s Ambassador to Denmark and youngest daughter of struggle icons, Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, has died at the age of 59.

She died on Sunday night at a hospital in Johannesburg, but the cause of her death has not been ascertained as at press time.

She’s survived by her four children: Zoleka, Zondwa, Bambatha and Zwelabo and her husband Molapo.

Confirming the unfortunate incident, the Mandela Family, in a statement, said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Mama Zindzi Mandela, youngest daughter of the late ANC (African National Congress) stalwarts Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

“She is survived by her children and grandchildren. Memorial service and funeral arrangements to be announced in the course of the week.”

Also, Nelson Mandela Foundation was heartbroken by the news of the passing of Mama Zindzi.

The foundation said: “We have been shocked to wake to the news of the untimely passing of Zindziswa Mandela. On a day when we are marking the anniversary of another terrible moment – when Madiba’s son Thembekile died in a car accident in 1969. Zindzi was someone we had come to know well and to love. She was our friend.

“Our thoughts are with her family and friends.

“Zindzi will be remembered for a rich and extraordinary life, marked by many iconic moments. The years she spent banished with Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to the small town of Brandfort. That summer’s day in February 1985 at Jabulani Stadium when she read to the world Madiba’s rejection of President Botha’s offer of a conditional release from prison.

“We will also remember her as a special soul. She worked with the Foundation on many projects over the years, for instance the book Hunger for Freedom, by author Anna Trapido. We valued her generosity, her warmth and her sense of humour. She was always patient in responding to our requests for information and other forms of assistance. And we admired her strength in dealing with life’s challenges and tragedies.

“Madiba’s personal archive speaks to this strength, as well as to the nature of her relationship with her father. Just two examples as illustration. In a 1969 letter from prison, Madiba noted that her ‘heart is sore because I am not at home and wants to know when I will come back.

“In a 1987 letter to Zindzi, Madiba told her that he had heard from an acquaintance that she was as strong as a rock. He went on: ‘That is just the kind of remark a father would like to hear about his beloved child. I literally swelled with pride and satisfaction. That remark reached me at the right time, shortly after you had just gone through a rather harrowing experience.

“He ended the letter: ‘Tons and tons of love darling, and a million kisses.

“We join with many in saying hamba kakuhle to an outstanding South African. We will miss you Zindziswa; you who were named after the daughter of that great South African poet S.E.K. Mqhayi. We will miss you Ambassador Mandela. Lala ngoxolo Madiba, Zondwa, Ngqolomsila, Sophitsho, Yem-yem,” Nelson Mandela Foundation said, in a statement by Luzuko Koti.

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa also offered his condolences.

“I offer my deep condolences to the Mandela family as we mourn the passing of a fearless political activist who was a leader in her own right. Our sadness is compounded by this loss being visited upon us just days before the world marks the birthday of the great Nelson Mandela.

“Zindzi Mandela was a household name nationally and internationally, who during our years of struggle brought home the inhumanity of the apartheid system and the unshakeable resolve of our fight for freedom.

“After our liberation she became an icon of the task we began of transforming our society and stepping into spaces and opportunities that had been denied to generations of South Africans,” Ramaphosa said.

The Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in his tribute, said: “Saddened to hear the news about Zindzi Mandela passing. I am sending my deepest condolences to the Mandela family and the people of South Africa. Zindzi was an inspirational leader and we all will miss her greatly.”

Idowu Sowunmi