The grandson of Nelson Mandela has registered his displeasure with comments that claimed South Africans celebrated Meghan Markle’s marriage to Prince Harry just like how they also rejoiced when his grandfather was released from prison.
Mandela is a very revered global icon. The deceased former president of South Africa spent 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid campaigns. His eventual release in 1990 paved the way for South Africa to become a democratic nation.
But in a recent feature on The Cut magazine, the Duchess of Sussex said a Lion King cast member from South Africa had told her in 2019 that South Africans celebrated her royal wedding just like they did when Mandela was released from prison. Markle said she had that conversation during the Lion King premiere in London.
She said the cast member told her: “I just need you to know: When you married into this family, we rejoiced in the streets the same we did when Mandela was freed from prison.”
In an interview with Mail Online on Tuesday, Mandela’s grandson, Zwelivelile ‘Mandla’ Mandela, said the comparison left him “surprised.”
“Madiba’s celebration was based on overcoming 350 years of colonialism with 60 years of a brutal apartheid regime in South Africa. So It cannot be equated to as the same,” Zwelivelile, who is also a member of parliament, said.
“Every day there are people who want to be Nelson Mandela, either comparing themselves with him or wanting to emulate him,” he added. “But before people can regard themselves as Nelson Mandelas, they should be looking into the work that he did and be able to be champions and advocates of the work that he himself championed.”
Zwelivelile said the celebrations that ensued in the wake of his grandfather’s release from prison were more significant than Markle’s marriage to a “White prince.”
“We are still bearing scars of the past. But they (Mr Mandela’s celebrations) were a product of the majority of our people being brought out onto the streets to exercise the right of voting for the first time.
“He spoke for oppressed minorities, children and women and protracting the most vulnerable people in our society,” he said. “He always spoke about oppressed nations around the globe and yet people are silent on those issues. But this is what we like to see (from) people when they regard themselves as being a ‘Nelson Mandela.’ Then you could be a champion of the causes that he represented.”
He continued: “My advice to everyone is to live the life Nelson Mandela lived and support the causes he supported.
“That is the ultimate litmus test. What is the value of people dancing in the street and chanting President Nelson Mandela’s name when what they stand for is diametrically opposed to what he stood for?
“Nelson Mandela’s release from jail was the culmination of nearly 350 years of struggle in which generations of our people paid with their lives. It can never be compared to the celebration of someone’s wedding.”
Markle’s comments came after her husband Prince Harry spoke at a United Nations event to mark Nelson Mandela International Day. The Duke of Sussex, in his keynote address, referred to Mandela as a man who “endured the very worst of humanity, vicious racism, and state-sponsored brutality.”
“In our own time, a time of global uncertainty and division, when it’s all too easy to look around and feel anger or despair, I’ve been inspired to go back to Mandela’s writings and for insight into how this could be,” he said. “How he could experience so much darkness, and always manage to find the light.”