The saying that pain and loss can birth purpose really resonates when one thinks about how dramatically Zoleka Mandela has changed the trajectory of her life since she experienced several losses and survived cancer, mental illness, and drug addiction. Zoleka Mandela’s family life is one that has been fraught with several painful experiences that have shaped who she is today – an activist and a passionate South African writer.
Zoleka Mandela is the granddaughter of Nelson Mandela. Her mother, Zindzi Mandela, had her with her first husband, Zwelibanzi Hlongwane. According to Zoleka, a family name cannot always protect you from the world, and bad experiences can drive people towards dangerous choices. From all that she has gone through, one can only assume that she speaks from her personal experience.
Zoleka Mandela Was Married to Thierry Bashala For Six Years
Thierry Bashala is the Chief Executive officer of YOOPI. When Zoleka met and began to date Thierry, their love really felt and looked like a fairy tale. The duo actually met in 2012 at a clothing store where Thierry was following her around and pretended to be trying some jeans on. Beautifully, the lovebirds started a relationship that lasted for two years. In the year 2014, they both decided to take it a step further by getting married. Unfortunately, their marriage was short-lived as they divorced in the year 2020.
Their Union Ended After Failed Attempts To Make Things Work
Zoleka Mandela has never claimed to be a perfect human being, and she has shared her life experiences, wins, losses, and downfalls with millions of people all over the world to encourage them to do better and make wiser life decisions. From all that has come to light about her struggles, Zoleka isn’t the type to remain in a relationship or marriage after all indications that things are no longer working. According to her, after a while, the relationship with her husband began to affect her self-esteem, emotional and mental state, as well as her independence.
She explained that the marriage has been more like a cage for her and that she exhibited habits that made her tie her self-worth to others. She then lost the ability to express herself and stay true to who she really is. Leaving the marriage was indeed her way of finding herself and gaining freedom. From what she said, they really tried to make things work, but they ended up getting a divorce after they realized that things weren’t improving. Even though it is unclear if the divorce was done amicably by both parties, they have chosen to move on with their lives individually. Zoleka announced their divorce on her Instagram page.
Zoleka Mandela Had Five Children But Only Three Survived
Life can really be unfair and most of the time, people go through things beyond their comprehension, which is indeed worrisome. In Zoleka’s years of existence, she has been through a lot. From dealing with sexual abuse as a child, self-identity issues, marital issues, battling cancer, and several other ailments, she shouldn’t have to go through losing her children again but she did. Sadly, Zoleka Mandela’s family welcomed 5 children but has only 3 surviving children today.
In 2010, Zoleka Mandela’s family experienced a terrible loss. The activist lost her oldest daughter- Zenani. She was born on 9th June 1997 at Park Lane Clinic, Johannesburg.
Zenani was 13 years old at the time she lost her life to a road accident. This happened two days after her 13th birthday while returning from the World Cup Concert in Soweto. From what was gathered about the tragic event, she was killed by a drunk driver who was later acquitted of all the charges leveled against him. Unfortunately, Zoleka couldn’t attend her daughter’s funeral because she was suffering from addiction to drugs at that time.
Zenawe Zibuyile Mandela
After Zoleka successfully received treatment for breast cancer at the age of 32, she got pregnant again while with her partner, Sekoati Tsubane. But, her joy was short-lived as the baby came prematurely and died some days after his birth. Zoleka has continued to remember her children even though they are no longer physically present with her. She recently celebrated her son on the day he would have turned nine with a picture of his hand, which was taken when he was born.
He was born on the 21st of November 2002. He is all grown now and way taller than his mother. For someone who has experienced several losses, Zoleka goes all out to show her living children how much she loves them. When Zwelami turned 18 in the year 2020, his mother couldn’t stop gushing over him on her Instagram page.
This is Zoleka’s second daughter and she was born in the year 2014. Zanyiwe has been described by her mother as a little diva in the making. From what she has said about her personality, she is growing to be a very assertive young lady. Zoleka refers to her daughters as her angels.
Zenzile Motuba Bashala
Zenzile is the youngest of Zoleka Mandela’s family, and she was born in 2019. Even though she is quite young, she seems to be the one who looks like Zoleka the most. Several of her followers have pointed out how she seems to have replicated herself in Zenzile.
Zoleka Mandela Has Found Love Again
After the deterioration of her relationship and marriage to her ex-husband, Zoleka revealed that she was able to re-discover herself, find inner peace and also embark on a journey of self-love on social media, focusing on herself and her children.
Most people felt she was probably going to stay single since she craved freedom and was on a path of self-discovery. But were we all wrong? To the amazement of everyone, the South African writer is already seeing another man barely one year after she ended her marriage to Thierry.
Her newfound love is Leeroy Andile Cana. On the 3rd of May 2021, She shared a picture of both of them on social media where she wrote in the caption that she couldn’t believe she once thought another man was what she wanted forever. Zoleka is now fond of gushing over him and their relationship on social media.
Zoleka Mandela’s Pain Birthed Several Of Her Life Purposes
Asides from the several hats she dons, Zoleka Mandela is a media sweetheart. She has used her platform to advocate for several causes. After her daughter’s death at the hands of a drunk driver, she shared that she didn’t want another parent to experience the harrowing pain of losing their children, so she stood up and began to do something about it.
Since her daughter’s death, which happened 10 years ago, Zoleka has appeared at the forefront of Worldwide Campaigns for Road Safety. Her campaign is majorly to avoid the loss of lives of other children due to negligence on the drivers’ sides. Due to lots of bad roads in most African countries, drivers mustn’t drive under the influence of drugs.
For her tremendous work and efforts, she was chosen as one of BBC’s 100 women. Zoleka is also a Global Ambassador on non-communicable disease (NCDs) and Child Health at the United Nations.
Having battled with addictions to drugs and alcohol, mental illness, being a breast cancer survivor, and overcoming several cases of sexual abuse, she is indeed a warrior. According to her, one of her greatest desires is to see people pursue many of their dreams regardless of life challenges and unexpected consequences. She wrote about all this in her autobiography – “When Hope Whispers,” published in 2013. As a breast cancer survivor, Zoleka ensures to stay fit, thereby avoiding a recurrence of cancer growth in her cells.
In 2013, she established a social upliftment foundation called Zoleka Mandela Foundation, which aimed to educate people about breast cancer, road safety, and social responsibility as well as help young people in the area of personal growth, accountability, and volunteerism.
Truly, a tree can’t be separated from its root. She has shown that she is truly the child of her grandfather, the late Nelson Mandela, with the way she takes her activism seriously and the way she cares for children.