Traditional leaders want answers from Mandela over conversion to Islam

Johannesburg - Eastern Cape traditional leaders want answers from Nelson Mandela’s grandson Nkosi Zwelivelile 'Mandla' Mandela about why he reportedly converted to Islam when he married a Muslim woman.

“We reacted with shock on the news of his conversion. We were also very concerned. What we know is that the woman converts, not the man. That is our custom,” Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa provincial chairperson Chief Mwelo Nonkonyane said on Tuesday.

They were troubled that Mandela married without any traditional leaders present at the ceremony.

“Traditional leaders don’t marry secretly. He should have been represented by the traditional council of Mvezo. He is the leader of people of Mvezo. We are still trying to locate him to get answers,” he said.

Mandela married Muslim bride Rabia Clarke last week.

“I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Rabia's parents, her extended family and the Muslim community, for welcoming me into their hearts,” Mandela said in a statement. 

The marriage, in Cape Town, was the fourth for Mandela, whose heritage was isiXhosa. He was the traditional chief of Mvezo.

“Although Rabia and I were raised in different cultural and religious traditions, our coming together reflects what we have in common: We are South Africans,” he said.

According to reports, Mandela was still legally married to his first wife, Tando Mabunu-Mandela, with whom he had been embroiled in a long and bitter divorce.

City Press newspaper reported that the pair were married in community of property in 2004 and had been fighting in court over various assets.

In the past, she had laid bigamy charges against him. He had defied various interdicts and married three more times.
 
Mandela wed second wife Anais Grimaud in a traditional ceremony in 2010. In 2013, Mandla accused his younger brother Mbuso of impregnating Grimaud.  Their marriage was annulled.
 
In 2014, his marriage to third wife Mbali Makhathini in a traditional ceremony in 2011, was declared null and void in court.

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