On Monday morning, it was announced that Zindzi Mandela, South Africa’s Ambassador to Denmark and daughter of anti-apartheid icons Nelson Mandela
and Winnie Mandela, died early Monday morning at a Johannesburg hospital.
Zindzi Mandela died at the age of 59 and her cause of death is not immediately known.
“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 short statement Monday morning.
Nelson Mandela is respected across the world over for bravery, peace advocacy, resiliency and honor.
Mandela’s harrowing 27-year experience in Robben Island Prison in Capetown, South Africa after being convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the South African government — guilty itself of countless crimes against the black population in the name of apartheid — stands as one of the defining stories of leadership and sacrifice that the 20th Century produced.
Zindzi Mandela doesn’t do tons of interviews, but in 2013, we discussed the legacy of her father and his leadership.
“My father is a very modest man,” Zindzi Mandela told me.
“He’s humble and grateful that he’s part of the legacy of the people that came before him and inspired him.”
Nelson Mandela was the topic of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a biopic film directed by Justin Chadwick (The First Grader, The Other Boleyn Girl) and starred Idris Elba (The Wire, The Office, Takers) as Nelson and Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean, 28 Days Later, Miami Vice) as Winnie Mandela. The film highlighted Mandela’s journey from his childhood growing up in a village in Africa through his development as a freedom fighter on to his later years after his prison release, leading to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.
The film is based off Mandela’s autobiography of the same name and is the most expensive production ever produced by a South African film company at $35 million.
“I found it very therapeutic,” Zindzi Mandela told me.
“What I liked about the Long Walk to Freedom is that it talks to my father as a boy who grew up in an African Village and the impact that he had on the international sphere on the global level.”
Zindzi Mandela had even joked that Idris Elba playing the role of her dad came with perks.
“I always joke and say that I get to call Idris Elba daddy anytime,” she told me.
“He brought so much depth to the role he played ― and I liked that he even tried to emulate his accent.”
Mandela also said that Elba did a good job with her dad’s accent.
“I think he did a good job, he actually brought him alive,” she said.
Nelson Mandela was globally regarded as a man who was selfless and who fought for freedom. He was a fighter that championed the cause of apartheid in South Africa. He died on December 5. 2013 of a respiratory illness at the age of 95.