South Africa: Foundation Heartbroken on the News of the Passing of Zindzi Mandela

Former U.S. President President Barack Obama, left, with Zindzi, centre, and Zenani Mandela on November 7, 2013.
press release

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. Her own courageous work in underground structures. Public service as South African Ambassador to Denmark.

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.”

In the words of Chief Executive Sello Hatang: “I feel paralysed today. My heart is broken.”

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.

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