frontline: the long walk of nelson mandela

Wedding day, June 1958

Husband & Lover

The intricacies of Mandela's heart, mind and spirit are revealed in his electric, three decade long relationship with Winnie Madikizela. It was a love story, tempered tragically by the political ambitions of its two larger-than-life protagonists. Throughout it, he felt painful guilt for what Winnie had endured because she was his wife--the years of imprisonment, solitary confinement and house arrests. And he showed vast loyalty as he learned of her affairs and descent into violence. But Winnie and his family always came second to his other great love, the ANC and the liberation struggle.
"I part from my wife with no recriminations. I embrace her with all the love and affection I have nursed for her inside and outside of prison from the moment I first met her." from Mandela's April1992 statement announcing his separation from Winnie.
An Interview with Richard Stengel

Stengel, who collaborated with Mandela on his memoirs, assesses the dynamics of the Winnie-Mandela relationship and measures the personal pain and political calculation that entered into Mandela's decision to separate.

The Letters to Winnie

Four letters written from Robben Island,1976-1979.

"The Separation"

This short chapter from Mandela's memoirs deals with the end of his marriage and his regrets over neglecting his family.

Fatima Meer's Interview

Meer has been close to both Winnie and Nelson for decades and talks about the courtship, early years of marriage and the evolution of their relationship.

Jessie Duarte's Interview

Duarte was Mandela's personal assistant after his release from prison. She recalls Mandela's love of women, offers her impressions of why the marriage ended, and his new love, Graca.

Fikile Bam's Interview

Bam recounts how Mandela was pressured to leave Winnie by colleagues who felt she was jeopardizing the liberation movement.

Neil Barnard's Interview

Barnard, who helped arrange secret government talks with the imprisoned Mandela, recounts his discussions with Mandela about Winnie, and how the government handled the situation of Winnie's difficulties during the period of the negotiations.

An Interview with Amina Cachalia and Rica Hodgson

Both women have known Nelson Mandela and Winnie for decades and share some candid, insider views on the happy and sad times of their marriage, particularly the last painful years.

Wolfie Kodesh's Interview

An ANC activist, he helped hide the fugitive Mandela and arranged secret meetings with colleagues and family. Kodesh recalls how deeply Mandela felt the loss of a family life and his great love for Winnie.

"Marriage and Motherhood"

Winnie Madikizela is interviewed about her marriage, family, the years of Mandela's imprisonment and the divorce, in this 1997 newspaper article (on its web site).