The North Star has dropped its paywall during this COVID-19 crisis so that pertinent information and analysis is available to everyone during this time. This is only possible because of the generous support of our members. We rely on these funds to pay our staff to continue to provide high-quality content. If you are able to support, we invite you to do so here.
Zindziswa “Zindzi” Nobutho Mandela, the youngest daughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, died in a Johannesburg, South Africa hospital on July 13. Mandela, who served as South Africa’s Ambassador to Denmark and was a political activist, was 59 years old.
Zindzi was born and raised in Soweto. She was educated in South Africa and Swaziland and grew up while her father, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, spent 27 years imprisoned by the apartheid regime.
Like her activist parents, Zindzi spent years participating in the liberation struggle and served as Deputy President of the Soweto Youth Congress. She was also a member of the Release Mandela Campaign and an underground operative of Umkhonto weSizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC).
In 1985, she gained international recognition when she read out a letter from her father in which he rejected an offer from then apartheid president, P.W. Botha, to be released. Zindzi read the letter in front of a rally of nearly 10,000 people in Soweto on February 10, 1985, according to an account by The Associated Press (AP).
According to the AP, Zindzi was greeted “with wild applause and foot-stamping” and she was carried to the stage. She told the crowd that prison authorities “tried to stop this statement being made, but he [Nelson Mandela] would have none of this and made it clear that he would make the statement to you, the people.”
“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,” Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations, said in a statement. “May her soul rest in peace.”
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation said it was gathering information about Mandela’s death and would release a detailed statement at a later date.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office confirmed that Mandela died in the early hours of July 13 at a Johannesburg hospital.
“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,” Ramaphosa said in a statement. “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.”
Ramaphosa said Zindzi’s spirit joined her parents “in a reunion of leaders to whom we owe our freedom.”
Zindzi was given the ambassadorship to Denmark in 2015 and had been designated to become South Africa’s Head of Mission in Monrovia, Liberia. She was Nelson Mandela’s sixth child. Only two remain alive: Zenani Dlamini and Pumla Makaziwe Mandela.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a senior writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.