Celebrated and honoured across the globe for its bearer’s selfless role in the liberation of South Africa, the name Mandela has become an iconic brand. Nelson Mandela’s life was dedicated to politics and achieving freedom for the oppressed in the country, which left him little time with his children and loved ones. It was not easy growing up a Mandela.
Ndileka Mandela is a social activist, former ICU nurse and the head of a rural upliftment organisation known as the Thembekile Mandela Foundation. Born to Madiba Thembekile Mandela (Nelson Mandela’s first born), who died in a car accident while his father was in prison, and the eldest grandchild of Nelson Mandela, Ndileka has lived a challenging life – a labyrinth of highs and lows.
I Am Ndileka tells the story of a woman who has made great strides in society, but still faces many challenges. Even though South Africa has been emancipated from the apartheid regime and so-called gender inequality structures have been removed, women still face oppression and abuse. In October 2017, as part of the #MeToo campaign to denounce sexual violence, Ndileka disclosed for the first time that she had been raped by her then partner in her own bed five years before. Follow Ndileka on her journey as she deals with death in her family, patriarchy, motherhood, depression, being homeless and surviving rape and abuse.
Along the journey of tackling challenges and expectations that come with her last name – things that she did not ask for but are asked of her nonetheless – Ndileka finds her voice.
Often when I have shared titbits of my life on social media, my followers or what I call my public family have always asked me whenI will write my story. I am not only writing for them but for me as well. I have found that as the years go by there are certain parts of your life that seem to get lost, as they aren’t documented. There are parts of my life that I want to make sense of, and when they are in black and white, I can finally do this.
I want to confront some of my ghosts through this literary work and finally lay them to rest. Contrary to popular belief, people think being from this family is a walk in the park and that we perhaps do not go through the same challenges as everyone else.