nelson mandela family tree

Nelson Mandela Family Tree

As a historian specializing in South African heritage, my experience with the Mandela family tree has been profound.

Through my research, I believe that the tendrils of Nelson Mandela's lineage are not just a chronicle of names but a testament to enduring courage.

Delving into his ancestry, I've felt a personal connection to the tales of tenacity that are entwined with the history of a nation.

Each discovery about his descendants has deepened my understanding of the fabric that weaves individuals into the broader narrative of humanity's quest for freedom and equality.

Key Takeaways

  • The Mandela family tree traces its origins back to the 18th century with King Ngubengcuka of the Thembu people.
  • Nelson Mandela's father, Mphakanyiswa Gadla Henry Mandela, was the chief of Mvezo, and his mother was Nonqaphi Fanny Nosekeni.
  • Nelson Mandela had six children, four from his first marriage to Evelyn Ntoko Mase, and two from his second marriage to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
  • Mandela's legacy extends through his 17 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

Early Ancestors

Tracing the roots of the Mandela family tree, you'll find it originated in the 18th century with King Ngubengcuka of the Thembu people, whose son was the first to carry the Mandela name.

This son, Prince Mandela, belonged to the Ixhiba clan, which was considered ritually inferior, and his line was recognized morganatically, limiting their royal claims.

Despite this, the leader of the Mandela family held a hereditary seat on the Thembu kings' privy council and presided over the chieftaincy of Mvezo.

Nelson Mandela's father, Mphakanyiswa Gadla Henry Mandela, was the chief of Mvezo. Post-Apartheid, this title was restored to the Mandela lineage, with Chief Mandla Mandela succeeding in 2007.

Nelson renounced his claim for the greater cause of the anti-Apartheid movement, detailed in his autobiography 'Long Walk to Freedom' and preserved by the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Parentage and Siblings

Nelson Mandela was born to Mphakanyiswa Gadla Henry Mandela and Nonqaphi Fanny Nosekeni, and he was one of several siblings in a family that played a significant role in the history of South Africa.

As you delve deeper into his life, you'll find that Mandela married three times and had six children. His first marriage to Evelyn Ntoko Mase resulted in four children, including his eldest son, Thembi, who sadly died in a car accident in 1969, and Pumla Makaziwe Mandela, who's his only surviving child from this union.

Mandela's legacy extended through his 17 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren, marking a family tree that's deeply entwined with the nation's struggles and triumphs. His personal losses, like the death of his son Makgatho Lewanika Mandela to AIDS, also became public narratives in the fight against the disease.

First Marriage: Evelyn Mase

In 1944, amidst the backdrop of a country struggling with deep-seated racial divisions, Mandela entered into matrimony with Evelyn Ntoko Mase, a union that brought forth four children and endured for 14 tumultuous years before their divorce in 1958. Their firstborn, Madiba Thembekile Mandela, also known as Thembi, tragically died in a car accident in 1969.

Throughout their marriage and beyond, Mandela and Mase faced not only the personal challenges that came with raising a family but also the overarching pressures of apartheid, which weighed heavily upon their lives.

To encapsulate their relationship, consider these key points:

  1. Married life began for Mandela and Evelyn Ntoko Mase in 1944.
  2. They had four children, one of whom, Thembi, died in a car accident.
  3. Mandela and Mase's marriage lasted 14 years before ending in divorce.
  4. Their union confronted the prevailing racial turmoil and personal tragedies, including the loss of three children.

Second Marriage: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

After enduring the heartbreak of his first marriage's dissolution, Mandela found love again with Winnie Madikizela in 1958, embracing a partnership that would intertwine with South Africa's burgeoning anti-apartheid movement.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, herself a fervent anti-apartheid activist, became Mandela's second wife and stood by him during his long imprisonment. The couple had two daughters, Zenani Mandela-Dlamini and Zindziswa 'Zindzi' Mandela, enriching Mandela's family tree.

Despite the strength they showed together, their marriage ended in divorce in 1996. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, having married three times in her life, remained a significant force in South African politics and continued to honor her ex-husband's legacy, alongside their children and grandchildren, including Mandla Mandela.

Third Marriage: Graça Machel

Mandela's quest for companionship led him down the aisle once more, this time with Graça Machel, on his 80th birthday, July 18, 1998, merging the stories of two prominent African families. This third marriage came after the end of Mandela's marriage to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Nelson Mandela married Graça Machel, the humanitarian and widow of Mozambican President Samora Machel.

Even after Mandela died in 2013, Machel remains a respected advocate for rights, especially concerning women and children. Zozuko Dlamini, a direct Mandela descendant, symbolizes the continuation of Nelson Mandela's legacy, which Machel also helps to honor through her ongoing work.

Children and Lineage

Delving into the roots of Nelson Mandela's family tree, we find six children born from his unions with Evelyn Ntoko Mase and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, each of whom contributed to a lineage that includes a wealth of descendants, from grandchildren to great-grandchildren.

His second son with Evelyn, Makgatho Lewanika Mandela, sadly died of an AIDS-related illness in 2005. Makgatho's children, including Ndaba Mandela, Mbuso Mandela, and Lewanika Mandela, carry forward Nelson's legacy.

Despite the personal tragedies, with Thembi Mandela perishing in a car accident, the family tree flourished. Nelson Mandela's progeny now span across generations, with 19 great-grandchildren ensuring that the Mandela name continues to resonate with the ideals of their esteemed ancestor.

The Mandela Legacy

While exploring the branches of Nelson Mandela's family reveals a rich tapestry of descendants, it's his enduring influence on South Africa and the world that cements the Mandela legacy. His contributions to human rights, equality, and democracy remain unparalleled, and his family continues to uphold this heritage.

Consider these pivotal elements of the Mandela legacy:

  1. Makgatho Lewanika Mandela, who sadly passed away from an AIDS-related illness, highlighting the struggle against the epidemic in South Africa.
  2. Zondwa Mandela, actively involved in various business and humanitarian initiatives.
  3. Bambatha Mandela, Kweku Mandela, and Zwelabo Mandela, all contributing to arts, culture, and societal development.
  4. The continuous global advocacy for justice and reconciliation inspired by Nelson Mandela's example.

These aspects underscore the multifaceted impact of the Mandela lineage.

Are there any connections or similarities between the family trees of Nelson Mandela and Cesar Chavez?

There are no direct connections between the family trees of Nelson Mandela and Cesar Chavez. However, both Mandela and Chavez were influential leaders who fought against oppression and injustice in their respective countries. Cesar Chavez family tree may not directly intersect with Mandela’s, but their legacies share a common devotion to social justice.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Family Members Did Nelson Mandela Have?

You're asking about Nelson Mandela's relatives. He had three wives, six children, 17 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren, amounting to a significant family legacy that continues to shape South African society and politics.

How Many Children Did Winnie and Nelson Mandela Have Together?

You're asking about Winnie and Nelson Mandela's children. Together, they had two daughters, Zenani Dlamini-Mandela and Zindziswa Mandela, who both have continued their parents' legacy with their own families.

Did Mandela and Graca Have a Child?

You're asking if Mandela and Graca Machel had a child together, right? They didn't, but Machel was a stepmother to Mandela's kids from prior marriages, and they both cherished their extended family.

Did Nelson Mandela Ever Have Kids?

Yes, you're right to wonder—Nelson Mandela did have kids. He fathered six children across his first two marriages, though sadly, some of them have passed away. His lineage includes grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


You've traced the roots of Nelson Mandela's family tree, spanning from his early ancestors to his notable descendants. Through his three marriages, Mandela fathered six children, whose lineages extend into a legacy of 17 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

This family, influential in South African politics and society, continues to uphold the values and ideals that Mandela championed. Their story, rich in detail and significance, is an integral part of South Africa's tapestry.