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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.”
Anti-apartheid activist Zindzi Mandela, daughter of the leader of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela, clasps hands with Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu in Johannesburg, South Africa on Feb. 10, 1985. (AP Photo/Peters)
Zindzi Mandela reads the refusal of her father, Nelso Mandela to leave prison after South African President P.W. Botha offered him conditional release on Feb. 10, 1985 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela has spent more than 20 years in prison as leader of the banned African National Congress (A.N.C). (AP Photo/Peters)
Black activist Winnie Mandela (right) and her daughter Zinzi, leave the Krugersdorp Magistrate's court on Feb. 19, 1986 in Krugerdorp, South Africa. West of Johannesburg, after two charges of contravening a banning order, which prevents her from living in her Soweto home, were withdrawn by the state Wednesday. (AP Photo/Greg English)
In this Oct. 1992, file photo, the late Nelson Mandela, center, holds the hand of his daughter, Zindzi, at her marriage in Johannesburg. Zindzi Mandela, age 59, has died early Monday at a Johannesburg hospital according to state media. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham/File)
Winnie Mandela, estranged wife of African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, hugs her daughter Zinzi, Wednesday, June 2, 1993 in South Africa after receiving news that her jail sentenced has been suspended. The appealed Court upheld her conviction on kidnapping charges, but changed her five-year term to a $4,800 fine. Mrs. Mandela has been free on bail. (AP Photo/John Parkin)
Hand in hand with his daughter Zindzi (2nd from right), South African President Nelson Mandela is waving through the Brandenburg Gate on May 23, 1996, accompanied by Berlin's Mayor Eberhard Diepgen (r) and his wife Monika (l). Berlin received the 77-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner enthusiastically on the last stage of his three-day visit to Germany. Hundreds cheered Mandela walking through the city's landmark. The focus of his stay in Berlin was a conversation with top managers from the German economy. Photo by: Andreas Altwein / picture-alliance / dpa / AP Images
Venus Williams, left, and Serena Williams present the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Zindzi Mandela at the ESPY Awards on Wednesday, July 15, 2009, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Zindzi Mandela, one of the daughters of former South African president Nelson Mandela, leaves the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, June 15, 2013. Relatives of Nelson Mandela have visited the former South African president in a hospital where he is being treated for a lung infection. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
From left to right, Tony Kgoroge, Naomie Harris, Zindzi Mandela, her sister Zenani, and Idris Elba pose for photographers at the UK Premiere of 'Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom' at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on Thursday Dec. 5, 2013. (Photo by Jon Furniss/Invision/AP Images)
Nelson Mandela's daughter, Zindzi, left, attend the funeral service for former South African President Nelson Mandela in Qunu, South Africa, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Odd Andersen, Pool)
Sisters Zindzi, left, and Zenani, right, at podium, appear on stage to pay tribute to their mother struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, backdrop, at her funeral at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, Saturday, April 14, 2018. Madikizela-Mandela died on April 2 at the age of 81. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
“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.