Being Mandela’s birthday, the world will go crazy posting Mandela quotes on various social media sites. So much for community service and singing. I did the same thing last year. Googled Mandela quotes, Ctrl C + Ctrl V and just like that, my fellow tweeps got to know I’m with it too. But since I may not engage in any community service today, I met as well blog.
Being Mandela’ birthday, this year I chose to reflect on his love life. I have been reminded however, that given my lack of interest in marriage, I shouldn’t be learning anything in the first place. Touché.
A Brief History
Mandela has been married three times. His first marriage was to Evelyn Ntoko Mase. The couple broke up in 1957, after 13 years, divorcing under the multiple strains of his constant absences, devotion to revolutionary agitation, and the fact she was a Jehova’s Witness, a religion which requires political neutrality.
His second marriage was to Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela- Mandela. She was a social worker, 16 years younger than Mandela. Their love affair began in 1958 and lived through the most trying time of Mandela’s liberation struggle – his life sentence in Robben Island. However, in 1992 they went separate ways. It is speculated that the separation was fueled by Winnie’s political ambitions and the fact that she was co-accused in the kidnapping of four youth and the murder of one of them – 14-year-old Stompie Seipei.
Mandela is currently married to Graca Machel, who he wed on his 80th birthday. Graca was a widow of Mozambican president Samoa Machel, who had been killed in an air crash 12 years earlier.
And that’s a brief history of Mandela’s love life.
Not exactly that fairy-tale, picture-perfect marriage ya’ll pray and make burnt-offerings for God to deliver. But that never changed the man the world loves and and who has come to be recognized as a symbol of freedom and peace. While his love life was in turmoil, his desire for the liberation of South Africans never wavered. The other way to look at it, he may have given up the fight to concentrate on his personal life and save not just one, but two marriages. Some may argue, he probably shouldn’t have married in the first place. Besides, he’s life was.., complicated? But Mandela always wanted a partner.
As Fatima Meer, a Durban professor said in 1992 during Mandela’s separation from Winnie. ”Nelson really wanted a wife. He didn’t want a politician.”
So what lessons do I learn from Mandela’s love life?
- If you’ve always wanted to be married, you will be.
- Not all marriages are the same. They do not all have to take the same path. They also don’t come with a user manual.
- That anyone can be disappointed in marriage. No one is special. So stop feeling sorry for yourself.
- That you don’t have to sit there and stay in a marriage that doesn’t work
- That if one marriage doesn’t work, don’t get into an affair. You can always leave (the proper way), marry again and be happy.
- You’ve got only one life. Make the most of it.
- That there’s nothing selfish about following your purpose while you’re married. If you don’t get the support you need, find someone who’s willing to support you.
- Finally, marriage is a part of life, not ‘THE’ life. So don’t make it be the only thing you accomplish. You were created to be much more than a spouse. As Margaret Thatcher said when her husband Denis proposed marriage:-
“I love you so much but, I will never be one of those women, Dennis. Who stays silent and pretty on the arm of her husband. Or remote and alone in the kitchen -doing the washing up, for that matter. One’s life must matter, Dennis. Beyond all the cooking and the cleaning and the children. One’s life must mean more than that. I cannot die washing a teacup!”
Thank you and Happy Birthday Madiba!