Zindzi Mandela was a friend, a sister, an activist and a mentor. She was her mother’s daughter, a firebrand who was not afraid to take on the apartheid regime when both Madiba and Winnie were either incarcerated or unable to speak for themselves.
Another fearless, shining light of the Mandela Family has left us. We will miss her love, her dignity, her humanity and her care for all those around her.
Zindzi was, and always will be a special friend and inspiration, especially having had her alongside from early on when the plans for the film began to formulate while Madiba was in prison, to being awarded the film rights to MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM. She was always accessible and generous with advice. She, Winnie and Zenani were the first people I spoke to about the idea of Idris Elba playing Madiba, they loved the choice.
On the journey of the rollout of the film she was alongside us attending the World Premiere in Johannesburg, The Whitehouse screening for President Obama, the premieres in New York, Los Angeles (co-hosted by our mutual friend, Quincy Jones), Cannes and the Royal Film Performance in London which took place on the night of Madiba passing.
Not only was she a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother and wife, she was also a deep thinker, a diplomat and poet. She had shared poems with me. In 1978 at 18, she published the anthology, ‘Black As I Am’, which was profound. One of the poems in this collection, ‘A Tree Was Chopped Down’ is especially appropriate in the wake of her passing:
A tree was chopped down
and the fruit was scattered
because I had lost a family
the trunk, my father
the branches, his support
the fruit, the wife and children
who meant so much to him
loving as they should be
all on the ground
some out of his reach
in the ground
the roots, happiness
cut off from him.
South Africa has lost a young giant, who has left a huge void in our lives. Our love and prayers go to the entire Mandela family, Zenani, Zoleka, Zondwa, Bambatha, Zwelabo and Molapo.
Viva sis Zindzi ! Viva !