Madiba's 'lovechild' won't give up

By admin
05 August 2014

A woman, who claims to be the lovechild of former president Nelson Mandela, is still trying to prove her claim and secure her "rightful" place in his family.

A woman, who claims to be the lovechild of former president Nelson Mandela, is still trying to prove her claim and secure her "rightful" place in his family, The New Age reported.

Onicca Mothoa (66) said she would not give up her fight for recognition despite being disregarded by the Mandela children.

"I have tried everything -- even took the bus to Cape Town. I have also tried going to the house where Madiba lived. They would not let me in," she was quoted as saying. Onica Mothoa claims to be Mandela’s daughter and says her life has been difficult because she is yet to be introduced to the Mandela clan and her ancestors. PHOTO: Thomo Nkgadima Onicca Mothoa claims to be Mandela’s daughter and says her life has been
difficult because she is yet to be introduced to the Mandela clan and her ancestors. PHOTO: Thomo Nkgadima Onicca claims her mother, Sophie Majeni, had an affair with Madiba in the 1940s while she worked as a domestic worker in Pretoria, an event she says is surprisingly missing from the former president’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. At the time, Madiba was married to his first wife, Evelyn Mase, whom he married in 1944 .

ONICCA’S STORY 

When Onicca Mothoa told her children in 2009 she was going to take the bus from Pretoria to Qunu to see Nelson Mandela they were stunned. “They said, ‘Ma you’re going to get lost’,” she says with a laugh. “I said, ‘No ways!’”

It’s that laugh and the cheekbones and eyes that strike you when you first meet her. The 67-year-old of Soshanguve, Pretoria, is the spitting image of Madiba.

Onicca was born in 1947 and recalls often seeing her mom, Sophie Majeni, crying while clutching a picture. She was seven when Sophie got married and her stepfather adopted and raised her. She says her family used to keep her out of sight or whisper behind her back but no one ever explained why.

When Mandela was released from prison the gossip intensified and under pressure a family elder told her the story: Sophie had been a domestic worker for a family in Pretoria and met Mandela when he visited them while attending to legal business in the city. Her family destroyed all evidence of a relationship between Sophie and Mandela when he was a fugitive in the late ’50s. She tried to contact Mandela through the Nelson Mandela Foundation and was told to write a letter. She received no reply. She decided to visit Qunu after seeing Mandela’s retirement home on TV. Her youngest child, Jonas, accompanied her. Police guards at the entrance gate were amazed. “They couldn’t believe their eyes. They said many people showed up there claiming they were related to the old man but that I definitely had to meet him.”

'They couldn’t believe their eyes. They said I definitely had to meet him'

Onicca says a policewoman went inside to tell Mandela about the visitor who was the spitting image of him and said he was her dad. He asked the policewoman what the visitor’s mother’s name was and she said Sophie. Apparently Madiba then mentioned a nickname few people other than those close to Sophie knew: Bushi, an abbreviation for Bushman, because of her yellowish complexion.

Mandela invited Onicca inside and the police guards took her to him. She says Mandela asked, “My child, what can I do for you?” According to Onnica the guards ushered her out before she could tell her story. They suggested she consult the elders of the tribe.

She took the bus to the Eastern Cape several times more but didn’t manage to talk to the elders. She says it was a humiliating  experience.

When Madiba was in the Pretoria Heart Hospital in 2013 she tried in vain to see him.

After his death Onicca was one of the thousands who filed past his coffin while he was lying in state at the Union Buildings. Her whole family went to Qunu hoping to attend the burial but they had to sit outside the gate and watch from a distance.

There’s bitterness in her voice when she says, “I washed my hands and said, ‘Goodbye, Madiba, we’ll meet in heaven’.”

(Standing) Onica with her sister, Malebo Kolotsi, and Malebo’s children, Tshidi and Jonas. (Sitting) Onica’s grandchildren, from LEFT to RIGHT: Boipelo Maboa, Amogelang Mothoa, Boitumelo Madipuo, Ofentse Mothoa and Boikarabelo Maboa. PHOTO: Thomo Nkgadima (Standing) Onicca with her sister, Malebo Kolotsi, and Malebo’s children, Tshidi and
Jonas. (Sitting) Onicca’s grandchildren, from LEFT to RIGHT: Boipelo Maboa, Amogelang
Mothoa, Boitumelo Madipuo, Ofentse Mothoa and Boikarabelo Maboa. PHOTO: Thomo Nkgadima

Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela said Mothoa had not approached him for help.

"Maybe she has not been using the proper channels. If she says she was chased away from the family, who from the family chased her away?" he asked.

The former statesman died at his Houghton home in December at the age of 95.

- Suprise Mazibila, Susan Purén and Sapa

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