Mandela's First Wife, a JW, died Friday at 82

by blondie 4 Replies latest social current

  • blondie

    The reports came with the news that Mr Mandela's first wife, Evelyn, died on Friday aged 82. They were wed in 1944 and had four children, although two died. As he went into politics, she became a Jehovah's Witness. They separated in 1955.

    Mandela's first wife found solace in Bible

    May 03 2004 at 03:34AM

    By Moipone Malefane

    "Do not throw me away in the time of old age. Just when my power is failing, do not leave me."

    This is the scriptural verse, Psalm 71 verse 9, that Nelson Mandela's deeply religious first wife, Evelyn Rakeepile, asked her daughter to read to her on the day she died.

    Makaziwe Mandela, the only daughter of Rakeepile and Mandela, said on Sunday her mother - who suffered chronic lung disease - had died at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg on Friday.

    'I will remember my mother for her tenacity and being true to her religious beliefs'

    Rakeepile, who was 82, was admitted on Tuesday.

    Speaking from her Johannesburg home, Makaziwe Mandela said that when she went to the hospital on Friday, her mother had asked her to read to her from Psalms.

    Mandela said she was in Rustenburg on Thursday, and on her return to Johannesburg, she heard there was nothing more that doctors could do to save her mother's life.

    "I went to the hospital to see her and she was very bad."

    "On Friday I visited her with my friend, and we talked about a number of things," said Mandela.

    "She asked me to read her Psalm 71 verse 9. She could see I was not doing well and she asked my friend to read me Revelations 21 verse 4. Both scriptures were her favourite."

    The verse from Revelations reads: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

    Mandela said: "I will remember my mother for her tenacity and being true to her religious beliefs until the end."

    Rakeepile was born in Umtata in 1922. Her mother and the mother of the late African National Congress veteran Walter Sisulu were sisters.

    She married Nelson Mandela in 1944 and they were divorced in 1957. They had two sons and two daughters.

    In 1998 she married Soweto businessman Simon Rakeepile, who is also very religious. They both were Jehovah's Witnesses and lived in Mzimhlophe in Soweto.

    Rakeepile will be buried in Johannesburg on Saturday.

  • minimus

    ....another old person that died without ever seeing paradise.....

  • Earnest

    Sorry to hear about the death of South Africa's first lady, Blondie. In Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, he writes (in chapter 24):

    Over the course of [1954] Evelyn became involved with the Watchtower organization, part of the church of Jehovah's Witnesses. Whether this was due to some dissatisfaction with her life at the time, I do not know. The Jehovah's Witnesses took the Bible as the sole rule of faith and believed in a coming Armageddon between good and evil. Evelyn zealously began distributing their publication The Watchtower, and began to work on me as well, urging me to convert my commitment to the struggle to a commitment to God. Although I found some aspects of the Watch Tower's system to be interesting and worthwhile, I could not and did not share her devotion. There was an obsessional element to it that put me off. From what I could discern, her faith taught passivity and submissiveness in the face of oppression, something I could not accept.

    I tried to persuade her of the necessity of the struggle, while she attempted to persuade me of the value of religious faith. When I would tell her that I was serving the nation, she would reply that serving God was above serving the nation. We were finding no common ground, and I was becoming convinced that the marriage was no longer tenable.

    We also waged a battle for the minds and hearts of the children. She wanted them to be religious, and I thought they should be political. She would take them to church at every opportunity and read them Watch Tower literature. She even gave the boys Watchtower pamphlets to distribute in the township. I used to talk politics to the boys. Thembi [their first son] was a member of the Pioneers, the juvenile section of the ANC, so he was already politically cognizant....

    Evelyn and I had irreconcilable differences. I could not give up my life in the struggle, and she could not live with my devotion to something other than herself and the family. She was a very good woman, charming, strong and faithful, and a fine mother. I never lost my respect and admiration for her, but in the end we could not make our marriage work.

  • badboy


  • oscar

    Very interesting.

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