Second Take: Mandla Mandela, a man of integrity

2013-07-08 10:00

On Thursday, I attentively watched and listened to Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela giving his side of the story on what has been dubbed the ­Mandela vs Mandela family feud.

Soon after the “explosive” ­briefing on TV, the Twittersphere went abuzz, with most users having a go at Mandla for “losing the plot”.

I couldn’t help but ask myself what plot? What many failed to put into context are the events that led to the chief’s outburst as well as his role as head of the village and heir to the Mandela family.

He had stayed away from public spats when his younger brother Ndaba publicly claimed that Mandla was born out of wedlock.

Opting for silence, he had shown leadership and, as expected of him as the face of the family, also ­maintained his cool.

Prior to the graves exhumation drama, it was his aunts Makaziwe and Zenani who, as the chief himself aptly pointed out on Thursday, took their Madiba to court over the “irregular appointment” of Mandela Trust trustees George Bizos, Tokyo Sexwale and Bally Chuene.

In this instance, too, Mandla demonstrated maturity and distanced himself from the money- centred feud that has threatened to split the Mandela family down the middle.

Mandla took this stance despite being sidelined by his aunts, a big “no” traditionally – more so against a man of his ­stature in the family and the Madiba clan.

It was disrespectful and ill-informed of Makaziwe, Zenani and the grandchildren who are said to have supported them to even discard him in the first place.

It was the last straw for Mandla when Makaziwe and the 15 other “family” members took the graves exhumation matter to court.

It is reported that this was a result of Mandla himself walking out of last week’s much-publicised family meeting in Qunu.

The chief, by virtue of being a royal head of the Madiba clan, is the voice of reason in the family and, most importantly, after consultation he has the final say on everything that ­involves the Mandelas.

But clearly in that meeting, this unwritten law was not honoured.

All these injustices against the family head, who for years has kept a family secret in relation to how Ndaba was born as well as the real father of baby Qheya (Mandla’s brother Mbuso, who committed the worst sin by sleeping with his ­brother’s wife).

These events triggered the unfortunate, but appropriate, public outburst by the upset chief.

Whatever his faults may be, I personally hold Mandla in high esteem.

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