Zindzi Mandela grew up during a time when the anti-apartheid struggle was at its peak.
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Zindzi Mandela
The youngest daughter of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first Black President, and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, an anti-apartheid activist, has tragically passed away. Zindzi Mandela was 59 at the time, per the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation. Although her cause of death is yet to be disclosed, it was reported that she took her last breath during the early hours of Monday morning in a Johannesburg hospital, according to a statement from President Cyril Ramaphosa's office. The news of her death left many astounded, especially Naledi Pandor, the Minister of International Relations.
He was left shocked after learning about her demise. Describing Zindzi as a heroine, Pandor said in a statement, "Zindzi will not only be remembered as a daughter of our struggle heroes, Tata Nelson, and Mama Winnie Mandela, but as a struggle heroine in her own right. She served South Africa well." According to CNN, the President was left "deeply saddened" after receiving the news about Zindzi's death. "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," said Ramaphosa in a statement. "Our sadness is compounded by this loss being visited upon us just days before the world marks the birthday of the great Nelson Mandela."
According to BBC News, President Ramaphosa said in a statement that Zindzi had "during our years of struggle brought home the inhumanity of the apartheid system and the unshakeable resolve of our fight for freedom." Zindzi was Nelson Mandela's sixth child and the second with his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. She grew up during a time when the anti-apartheid struggle was at its peak. Her sister, mother, and Zindzi had to undergo years of intimidation and harassment due to the apartheid regime when her father was imprisoned on Robben Island.
The renowned anti-apartheid icons' daughter first rose to prominence internationally in 1985. During a packed public meeting that was broadcasted globally, she had read her father's letter rejecting an offer made by the white minority government for his release. The then-present PW Botha offered to free Nelson Mandela from prison on the condition that he condemns the violence perpetrated by his movement against apartheid, the ruthless racial discrimination system that was enforced during the time in South Africa. Desmond Tutu, the former archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said that "speech in Soweto, on behalf of her father... reinvigorated the values and principles of the struggle." He continued, that Ms. Mandela "played a critical role symbolizing the humanity and steadfastness of the anti-apartheid struggle."
End of a great era. Mandela was a torch in darkness.— mapple (@zjgdbt) July 13, 2020
Recently, she found herself amid controversy after calling for the return of "white-owned land to South Africa’s dispossessed Black majority," according to New York Post. Dear Apartheid Apologists, your time is over. You will not rule again. We do not fear you. Finally #TheLandIsOurs, she wrote on Twitter. At the time of her passing, Zindzi was South Africa's ambassador to Denmark. In addition to the President, the non-profit Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation also released a statement mourning the death of Zindzi Mandela, reports CNN. "[She was] regarded by many as a child of the nation," said the foundation in a statement. Furthermore, they shared that her death means "South Africa loses an important generational link connecting our divided history to the promise of better, more inclusive, tomorrows."
Zindzi is survived by her husband, Molapo Motlhajwa, and four children, sons Bambatha Mandela, Zondwa Mandela, Zwelabo Mandela-Hlongwane, and daughter Zoleka Mandela.