Zindzi Mandela

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Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwane
Zindzi Mandela (cropped).jpg
Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark
from South Africa
In office
2015 – 2020
(until her death)
PresidentJacob Zuma
Cyril Ramaphosa
First Lady of South Africa
In office
Serving with Zenani Mandela-Dlamini
PresidentNelson Mandela
Succeeded byGraça Machel
Personal details
Zindziswa Mandela

(1960-12-23)23 December 1960
Soweto, Union of South Africa
Died13 July 2020(2020-07-13) (aged 59)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Resting placeFourways Memorial Park Cemetery
  • Zwelibanzi Hlongwane
    (early life; divorced)
  • Molapo Motlhajwa
    (m. 2013; her death. 2020)
Children4, including Zoleka
Parent(s)Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
Nelson Mandela
RelativesZenani Mandela-Dlamini (sister)
Thembekile Mandela (half-brother)
Makgatho Mandela (half-brother)
Makaziwe Mandela (half-sister)
Alma materUniversity of Cape Town

Zindziswa "Zindzi" Mandela (23 December 1960 – 13 July 2020),[1] also known as Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwane, was a South African diplomat and poet, and the daughter of anti-apartheid activists and politicians Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Zindzi was the youngest and third of Nelson Mandela's three daughters, including sister Zenani Mandela.[2][3]

She had served as her country's ambassador to Denmark, until her death in 2020,[4] and was due to take up a post as ambassador to Liberia.[5] She served as a stand-in First Lady of South Africa from 1996[dubious ] to 1998.[6]

Her collection of poems, Black As I Am, was published in 1978, with photographs by Peter Magubane.[7]

Early life[edit]

Zindzi Mandela was born on 23 December 1960 in Soweto, in what was then the Union of South Africa, to Nelson and Winnie Mandela.[8][9] The year of her birth was also the year that the African National Congress (ANC) launched its armed wing. Her parents were wanted by the government.[10] Zindzi was 18 months old when her father was sent to prison.[9] During her youth she was often left in the care of her older sister Zenani Mandela when her mother was imprisoned for months at a time.[11]


In 1977, when her mother was banished to the Orange Free State, Zindzi went to live with her there. Zindzi was not able to complete her education until she was sent to Swaziland.[10] Eventually, her mother was allowed to move back to Soweto.[11] Zindzi's father was offered a conditional release in 1985 by the then-State President, P. W. Botha. Her father's reply could not be delivered by either one of her parents. Consequently, Zindzi was chosen to read his refusal at a public meeting on 10 February 1985.[12]

Her poetry was published in 1978 in the book Black as I Am, with photographs by Peter Magubane,[13] and has also appeared in publications including Somehow We Survive: An Anthology of South African Writing, edited by Sterling Plumpp (1982),[14] and Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writings by Women of African Descent, edited by Margaret Busby (1992).[15] Zindzi studied law at the University of Cape Town,[10][16] where she earned a BA in 1985.[17]

She served as a stand-in First Lady of South Africa from 1996 until 1998, between her parents' divorce and her father's remarriage, to Graça Machel.[18]


Zindzi was appointed South Africa's ambassador to Denmark in 2014. She first arrived in Denmark in June 2015.[19] In June 2019, while Ambassador to Denmark, Mandela's Twitter account sent a series of increasingly strongly worded tweets, where she discussed "trembling white cowards who are the thieving rapist descendants of Van Riebeck [sic]", and "uninvited visitors who don't want to leave" that caused significant controversy.[20][21][22] Mandela-Hlongwane had previously that month expressed her "deep, pure unconditional love and respect" for "CIC" (leader) of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema.[23]

While being investigated by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) for breaching their social media policy, Mandela remained defiant, tweeting that "I am not accountable to any white man or woman for my personal views. No missus or baas here. Get over yourselves #OurLand".[24] She was ordered by foreign minister Naledi Pandor to "conduct herself as a diplomat" and to adhere to the department's social media policy, and concern about her views was expressed by former president Thabo Mbeki, and her views were described as hate speech by ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang, while her opinions drew support from the EFF and the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala.[25] Her tweets came close to the end of her four-year term as ambassador to Denmark.[26]

At the time of her death in Johannesburg, she was designated to take up a post as ambassador to Liberia,[5] a posting described by family members as a "punishment" for her controversial tweets the previous year.[27]

Personal life and death[edit]

Zindzi was married twice and had four children from her first husband: daughter Zoleka Mandela (1980) and sons Zondwa Mandela (1985), Bambatha Mandela (1989) and Zwelabo Mandela (1992).[28] Her first husband was Zwelibanzi Hlongwane.[29][30] She married her second husband, Molapo Motlhajwa, who was a member of the South African National Defence Force, in March 2013.[31]

Mandela-Hlongwane was said to have agreed to arrange a boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to coincide with her father's birthday in 2011. The match did not take place and the boxing promoter Duane Moody sued successfully for a US court to order that she pay US$4.7m, plus costs, in damages to Moody. Mandela-Hlongwane was expected to appeal.[32]

Zindzi died on 13 July 2020, aged 59, at a hospital in Johannesburg.[1][33] It was revealed that she had tested positive for COVID-19 on the day of her death. However, the virus was not said to be the cause of her death as her family awaited an autopsy report.[34] She was buried next to her mother, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at Fourways Memorial Park on 17 July, a day before what would have been the 102nd birthday of her late father, Nelson Mandela.[35]




  1. ^ a b "JUST IN: Zindzi Mandela, 59, has died". News24. 13 July 2020. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  2. ^ Smith, David (7 July 2012). "Nelson Mandela's daughters emerge from his shadow to forge careers". The Observer. London. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  3. ^ Swails, Brent; Bukola Adebayo (16 July 2020). "Zindzi Mandela tested positive for Covid-19 on the day she died, son says". CNN. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  4. ^ "South Africa's ambassador to Denmark Mandela dies aged 59". thelocal.dk. 13 July 2020. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  5. ^ a b Chutel, Lynsey (13 July 2020), "Zindzi Mandela, Activist in South Africa and Ambassador, Dies at 59", The New York Times.
  6. ^ Oluoch, Derrick (14 July 2020). "Zindzi Mandela: South Africa's former first lady, apartheid heroine dies at 59". Eve – Achieving Woman. Standard Media.
  7. ^ Valela, Ntombizikhona (13 August 2020). "Remembering Zindzi Mandela, the writer". New Frame.
  8. ^ "Watch: The heirs to the Madikizela–Mandela dynasty". iOL. 3 April 2018. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Zindziswa Mandela". South African History Online. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Zindzi Mandela born, South African History Online, 16 March 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  11. ^ a b Carlin, John (3 January 1993). "A child of her time". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 17 September 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Zindzi Mandela reads her father’s rejection to PW Botha in 1985", SABC Digital News, via YouTube, 30 January 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  13. ^ Mandela, Zindzi, Black As I Am. Photographs by Peter Magubane; foreword by Andrew Young. Los Angeles Guild of Tutors Press, 1978. ISBN 978-0896150010.
  14. ^ Mandela, Zindzi, "Drink from my empty cup", in Sterling Plumpp (ed), Somehow we survive: An anthology of South African writing, Thunder's Mouth Press, 1982, p. 27. ISBN 9780938410027.
  15. ^ Mandela, Zindzi (Zindziswa), "I Waited for You Last Night", in Daughters of Africa, Jonathan Cape, 1992, p. 915.
  16. ^ Jackson Jr., William E. (11 December 2013; updated 10 February 2014), "Madiba: In the Presence of Greatness", The World Post, HuffPost. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Zindzi Mandela" Archived 4 March 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Who's Who Southern Africa; accessed 13 July 2020.
  18. ^ Villiers, James de (13 July 2020). "OBIT | Zindzi Mandela, remembered for her 1985 address, dies at 59". News24. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  19. ^ Hamilton, Ben (26 June 2015), "Mandela finally in Denmark", CPHPost. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  20. ^ Citizen reporter (15 June 2019). "Zindzi Mandela lashes out at 'trembling white cowards' and 'shivering land thieves'". The Citizen.
  21. ^ Krige, Nick (15 June 2019). "Zindzi Mandela Twitter account calls out 'apartheid apologists'". The South African.
  22. ^ "#ZindziMandela divides Twitter with #OurLand tweets". www.iol.co.za. 15 June 2019.
  23. ^ "Zindzi Mandela takes aim at 'Apartheid apologists' as #OurLand trends". News24. 15 June 2019. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  24. ^ Goba, Neo (18 June 2019). "Zindzi Mandela not off the hook yet over Twitter rant". SowetanLIVE.
  25. ^ Meth, Oliver(23 June 2019), "Thabo Mbeki wants action to be taken against Zindzi Mandela", Sunday Tribune.
  26. ^ De Lange, Jan (23 June 2019), "The end of Zindzi Mandela’s term may have driven tirade", City Press.
  27. ^ Mokone, Thabo (19 July 2020), "Niece says Zindzi's deployment to Liberia was 'punishment' for land reform tweets", Sunday Times.
  28. ^ "Nelson Mandela Family Tree", South African History Online. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  29. ^ Pope, Hugh (8 March 1995), "Mandelas will divorce, says daughter", The Independent.
  30. ^ "Genealogy – Nelson Mandela Foundation". www.nelsonmandela.org. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  31. ^ Louw, Poppy, and Leonie Wagner (6 March 2013), "Mandela's daughter marries MK veteran", Daily Dispatch. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  32. ^ Padayachee, Kamini (22 December 2011). "Zindzi Mandela ordered to pay R62m". iOL. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  33. ^ Magome, Mogomotsi (13 July 2020). "Zindzi Mandela, daughter of Nelson and Winnie, dies at 59". Associated Press News. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  34. ^ SABC (15 July 2020). "Zindzi Mandela tested positive for Coronavirus, family awaiting autopsy report". sabcnews. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  35. ^ Mavuso, Sihle (17 July 2020). "Hamba kahle Mkhonto! Zindzi Mandela to be buried next to her mum, Winnie". iOL. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  36. ^ a b Battersby 2011, p. 601; Keller, Bill (15 August 2008). "Entering the Scrum". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 7 December 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  37. ^ "Mandela (1987)". IMDb.


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