Accoring to wirter David Smith in this article for The Guardian, "The former South African president's long imprisonment and devotion to politics has left a family squabbling over the legacy of Nelson Mandela.":
Nelson Mandela's family tree is tall with many divergent branches. Robbed of its patriarch, the tree must now try to withstand an ugly and unpredictable storm: a fight for his legacy that could turn Mandela against Mandela.
The former South African president married three times and fathered six children. Three predeceased him: one as an infant in 1948, another in a car crash in 1969 and a third from an Aids-related illness in 2005.
Only Mandla, the eldest grandson, has followed him into parliament. Mandla was the first of the Mandelas to comment after his death, saying he was strengthened by the knowledge that his grandfather was finally at rest.
"All that I can do is thank God that I had a grandfather who loved and guided all of us in the family," Mandla said in a statement. "The best lesson that he taught all of us was the need for us to be prepared to be of service to our people."
All of his family suffered from Mandela's long imprisonment and his devotion to politics. Makaziwe reflected: "Tata [father] has had his time in politics and I think tata could not relate. He could maybe relate better to the grandchildren but to us, the children, all he knew is to be a strict disciplinarian and to provide. My dad provided to an extent the material things. But would I say tata was emotionally available? No, I don't think that he was."
Mandela divorced Winnie in 1996 and married Graça Machel. According to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, he leaves behind 17 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren but unlike the Kennedys or the Nehru-Gandhis, they could not be regarded as a political dynasty. The most damaging factional split is between the descendants of Evelyn and Winnie, or Mandela's "first" and "second" families.
In his biography Young Mandela, David James Smith writes: "Among the first family there is a feeling that they have been dispossessed, written out of Mandela's life. Among Winnie's family there is a sense that his first family have sometimes wanted to exploit Mandela's name, and the tensions between the two families have occasionally boiled over into open hostilities."
The first family has seen a power struggle between Makaziwe and Mandla, an African National Congress MP who bears a striking resemblance to the statesman and is seen as his political heir. Mandla has been dogged by allegations of bigamy and trying to sell the TV rights to his grandfather's funeral, which he vehemently denies.
Earlier this year Mandla insisted that there was no conflict in the family, but these words rang hollow in July when, as Mandela lay critically ill in hospital, a bitter feud spilled out into the open. Sixteen family members led by Makaziwe won a court case against Mandla over his 2011 decision to secretly exhume and rebury Mandela's three late children in the village of Mvezo, where Mandla is chief and has built a visitor centre. Within hours Mandla's gates were forced open and the bones collected and reburied in Qunu, where Mandela will be laid to rest. In response Mandla gave an angry press conference denouncing family members "squabbling" over Mandela's money.
Now the great unifier has gone, the Mandelas will either come together or fly apart. The eldest granddaughter, Ndileka, has spoken candidly about deep fissures among them. "Things are always bubbling beneath the surface," she told the Sunday Times magazine in 2013. "For me, I've come to accept that it's a fallacy to portray us as being together when the whole world knows we have huge differences. And those differences do exist, like any other family. It's just a pity that ours are played out in public."
She said of Mandela, whose health was then fading: "He's the glue that keeps us together. I shudder to think what will happen when that glue is no longer there, but we rally round and put our differences aside. Well, I'm not so sure we put them aside, but we pitch up for him."
The first family is all too aware that, while Evelyn is widely forgotten, Winnie remains a larger-than-life "mother of the nation" who was still close to her ex-husband at his death. A flawed heroine of the anti-apartheid struggle, she is unlikely to keep a low profile in the coming days or to bite her lip if she believes Mandela's memory is being betrayed.
A glimpse of potential conflict over his funeral was offered at his 90th birthday when Winnie and her family stayed away, reportedly after learning that Makaziwe would use it to launch her House of Mandela wine label.
Another crack emerged in 2012 when Winnie accused the governing ANC of "shabby treatment" and boycotted a Mandela memorial lecture. Her granddaughter, Swati Dlamini, spoke out in her defence, but Ndileka attended the lecture and claimed to be speaking on behalf of the entire family.
Meanwhile, Swati and another granddaughter, Zaziwe, have been accused of exploitation after starring in a reality TV series, Being Mandela, while promoting a LWTF (Long Walk to Freedom) fashion line of T-shirts bearing Mandela's image.
Most worryingly, there are fears of an unseemly struggle over Mandela's inheritance. Already Makaziwe and Zenani have launched a legal action to remove his long-time friend and lawyer, George Bizos, from the boards of two investment funds. Mandla opposed the suit while Bizos and his allies claim it is a pre-emptive effort to grab control of Mandela's considerable assets.
"There will be other assets, too, that Madiba's heirs will wrestle over when the time comes to wind up the estate," the Star of South Africa warned in an editorial, referring to Mandela by his clan name. "The squabbles will be bitter and vicious if the first salvoes in this war are anything to go by.
"If this process is not properly managed, there is the very real risk that the memory of a selfless icon who helped free a people, then build a new nation, could forever be tarnished by the greed of his own seed, who cumulatively do not appear to have a shred of the integrity of the man they all now want to feed off."
That is certainly the last thing Mandela would have wanted. He spoke of his regret at neglecting family life down the years and was presumably pained by whispers of discord towards the end.
His granddaughter Tukwini once said: "We've always asked him, 'Grandad, how do you want us to honour your name when you're gone?' He would say, 'Well, that's entirely up to you, I can't dictate to you, but my hope is that you guys will always do something positive to honour the name and that you will manage the name in a way that's dignified.' Those are the only two requirements from him in terms of how we manage the Mandela name and how we honour it."
Source: The Guardian : http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/06/nelson-mandela-family
Top photo: Winnie Mandela with children