Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 9th 2013 Contents B2
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, December 9, 2013
"That s how I was told I was getting
married to him! It was not put arro-
gantly; it was just something that was
taken for granted. I just asked: What
She said in an 1983 interview with
filmmaker Kevin Harris that to all
intents and purposes she was mar-
rying a prisoner.
"He had to get permission to get
married because he was not only a
prisoner, he was banned and the trial
was on in Pretoria at the time. So he
was given four days in which to go to
the Transkei and get married."
The couple went on to have two
daughters, but spent little time together
as a family.
"He did not even pretend that I
would have some special claim to his
time. There never was any kind of life
I can recall as family life, a young
bride s life where you sit with your
husband. You just couldn t tear Nelson
from the people: The struggle, the
nation came first," she said in her
Three years after their wedding,
Mandela went underground---he was
captured and imprisoned for sabotage
in 1962 for five years.
"The honest truth of God is that I
didn t know him at all," she later
admitted to Sampson.
While he was in prison, the Rivonia
trial began, and the defendants could
have faced the death sentence---instead
they got life in prison.
From this time, Winnie was deter-
mined to keep the struggle going with
She faced banning orders, impris-
onment and was exiled to a township
near Brandfort. Visits to see her hus-
band were difficult.
"Exile is like being in prison at your
own expense...worst of all was being
without my children and not having
the opportunity to play the role of a
parent...virtually both of us have really
not had that opportunity to be parents
to our children," she told Harris.
Despite her controversial politics in
the late 1980s---and her involvement
in the abduction of a teenage boy
accused of being a police spy who was
murdered by one of her bodyguards---
the couple put on a united front for
Mandela s release in 1990.
She said there had been a great fear
that the ANC leadership would die in
On the day of his release, before he
walked free, Mandela was full of
excitement and they were both
shocked by his reception, she recalled
in an interview in The UK Guardian
newspaper in 2010.
"He is human," she said. "He must
have at a certain point been afraid,
afraid of what he was coming out
to...having left in the 60s, you come
back to a society that expected so
much of you at the age of over 70."
The couple separated before Man-
dela became president, over growing
political and personal differences, and
reports of her infidelity.
They later divorced and during court
proceedings it was revealed that after
Mandela s release from prison, she had
never entered their bedroom while he
On the 20th anniversary of his
release and at a time when her political
star had again risen, Winnie recalled
their married life together in a speech:
"He was loving, fond of children, a
people s person and a very hard work-
"His fearlessness, his unassailable
morality, his unwavering commitment
to the struggle for total freedom and
his insistence on marching to his own
beat were the hallmarks of his char-
"Yet he also had the ability to take
on adversaries and win them over, and
to take complex issues and bring them
down to earth.
"And he was no angel, like most
human beings. He never claimed to
be a saint."
Graca Machel: Third wife
Graca Machel knew what it was to
be married to a liberation movement
when she married Mandela towards
the end of his presidency.
She was the widow of Mozambican
independence leader and president
Samora Machel, who died in a plane
crash in 1986---an accident that was
alleged to have been engineered by
South Africa s apartheid-era regime,
though this is still under investiga-
"It s just wonderful that finally we
have found each other and can share
a life together," Mandela s biographer
Anthony Sampson quoted her as say-
ing two years before their marriage.
"He can love very deeply, but he
tries to control it very well in his public
appearance," she told the author.
"In private he can allow himself to
be a human being. He likes people to
know he is happy.
"When he is unhappy he lets you
"He s a very simple person, very
gentle. He is down to earth. Even polit-
ically if you watch him sometimes you
can feel there s a bit of naivete."
Twenty-seven years his junior, she
was reportedly reluctant to marry him
because of her sense of obligation to
the people of Mozambique, and the
Continued from Page B1
tension between Mandela and
Winnie Mandela following their
According to Mr Sampson, she
agreed to spend two weeks every
month with him in Johannesburg
in 1996, finding it hard at first to
adjust to his early rising and bed-
He could be "very impatient"
and "very stubborn"---and in a
sentiment shared with Mr Man-
dela s other wives, she told Samp-
son: "He is a symbol, that s cor-
rect, but he s not a saint."
Eventually bowing to pressure,
she agreed to marry him and they
tied the knot on his 80th birthday
She already had six stepchildren
and two of her own children, and
together they enjoyed their large
families and many grandchildren.
Graca, who continued her polit-
ical and humanitarian career, also
oversaw his several retirements
and tried to protect him from the
demands of an adoring world.
And for several years before his
death, she was at pains to prepare
"Madiba is a very proud person.
He is vain so when he realises that
he can t walk tall and firm like he
used to be, he doesn t like it," she
told CNN on his 91st birthday.
"To see him ageing is some-
thing that pains you.
"You understand you know it
has to happen. That spirit, that
sparkle, somehow is fading."
Nevertheless she told the BBC
in 2010 it was wonderful to watch
Mandela "get old gracefully".
'Married to a liberation movement'
Mandela's third wife Graca, was the widow of Mozambican independence
leader and president Samora Machel, who died in a plane crash in 1986.
Even politically if you watch him sometimes you
can feel there's a bit of naivete.
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