Mandela family

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The Mandela family is a South African political dynasty and chiefly family. Its most prominent member was Nelson Mandela, who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.

Parent houseAmaHala
Current regionSouth Africa
Place of originThembuland
Founded18th century
FounderInkosana Mandela KaNgubengcuka
Current headMandla Mandela
Connected familiesSwazi royal family
Machel family
Estate(s)Mvezo Great Place


The Mandelas are direct descendants of the AmaHala ruling dynasty of the Thembu people;[1] as a result, their leader has traditionally had a hereditary claim to both membership of the Thembu king's privy council and the chieftaincy of the town of Mvezo that is subject to his authority.

The family was started in the 18th century, when King Ngubengcuka of the Thembus married and left a son named Mandela, the first of the direct line to bear the name.[2][3] Prince Mandela was a son of a woman that belonged to the Ixhiba clan, a ritually inferior family when compared to his father's AmaHalas, and therefore his cadet branch of the dynasty was deemed to be morganatic.[4] Due to this, in lieu of having a place in the line of succession, he and his heirs were recognized as privy councillors thereafter.[5][6][7]

The prince's own son, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa Mandela, was later also given the title of the chief of Mvezo by his relative, the king of Thembuland, as a further marker of the family's eminence. After being lost in the Apartheid era, this chieftaincy has since been restored to the Mandelas.

During the title's abeyance, the claim to it passed to Chief Mandela's son Nelson, who would never inherit it. Following his renunciation of it in order to become active in the anti-Apartheid movement, it would later pass to his sons Thembekile and Makgatho, and following their own early deaths, to Makgatho's son Mandla. Chief Mandla Mandela would ultimately succeed to the title in 2007 following its restoration.[8]

Prominent members[edit]

Other members[edit]

  • Prince Cedza Dlamini, Swazi prince and humanitarian, step-grandson of Nelson Mandela (through Zenani)
  • Evelyn Mase, nurse, ex-wife of Nelson Mandela
  • Josina Z. Machel, activist and humanitarian, step-daughter of Nelson Mandela (through Graça)
  • Makaziwe Mandela, businesswoman, daughter of Nelson Mandela
  • Makgatho Mandela, lawyer, son of Nelson Mandela
  • Ndaba Mandela, humanitarian, grandson of Nelson Mandela (through Makgatho)
  • Ndileka Mandela, activist, granddaughter of Nelson Mandela (through Thembekile)
  • Thembekile Mandela, son of Nelson Mandela. Thembekile died in a car crash in 1969 while Mandela was in prison. His father was not permitted by the Apartheid authorities to attend his funeral.[9]
  • Zoleka Mandela, writer and activist, granddaughter of Nelson Mandela (through Zindzi)


  1. ^ "Genealogy". Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. Nelson Mandela Foundation. Archived from the original on 16 January 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
  2. ^ Guiloineau and Rowe (2002), p. 26.
  3. ^ Mandela, Nelson (1994). Long Walk to Freedom.
  4. ^ Mafela, Munzhedzi James (October 2008). The revelation of African culture in Long Walk to Freedom. Australian National University. ISBN 9781921536359. Archived from the original on 24 July 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2022. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  5. ^ Guiloineau and Rowe (2002), p. 26.
  6. ^ Lodge (2006), p. 1.
  7. ^ Mafela (2008), pp. 102–103.
  8. ^ Quinn, Andrew (16 April 2007). "Mandela's grandson becomes tribal chief, political heir". Reuters.
  9. ^ "Honouring Thembekile Mandela". Nelson Mandela Foundation. Retrieved 14 June 2023.


  • Guiloineau, Jean; Rowe, Joseph (2002). Nelson Mandela: The Early Life of Rolihlahla Madiba. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books. pp. 9–26. ISBN 978-1-55643-417-4.
  • Lodge, Tom (2006). Mandela: A Critical Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-921935-3.