Anant Singh pays tribute to his friend Zindzi Mandela

Zenani Mandela, Anant Singh and Zindzi Mandela at the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom on 5 December 2013. (Supplied)
Zenani Mandela, Anant Singh and Zindzi Mandela at the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom on 5 December 2013. (Supplied)

Film director Anant Singh and his family have paid tribue to Zindzi Mandela, who died on Monday.

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 White House screening for President Barack 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.

Zenani and Zindzi Mandela, President Barack Obama,
Zenani and Zindzi Mandela, President Barack Obama, Naomi Harris and Idris Elba (Supplied)

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 today:

A tree was chopped down

and the fruit was scattered


I cried

because I had lost a family

the trunk, my father

the branches, his support

so much


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!

With love, sadness and admiration.

Anant, Vanashree, Gyana and Kiyan Singh

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