Activist and author Zoleka Mandela, the granddaughter of the renowned civil rights leader
Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 43 after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
Her passing occurred on Monday evening, with her closest friends and family with her during
her final moments. Just one week before, she had been admitted to the hospital due
to metastasized liver cancer, a deeply personal battle she had openly shared with her vast
community of half a million followers on her Instagram page.
On September 18, a critical turning point arrived in Zoleka Mandela’s health journey. Medical
examinations unveiled the widespread progression of her liver cancer, affecting her hip, liver,
lung, brain, pelvis, and spinal cord. Despite the tireless efforts of the medical team, she found
peace on September 25.
Born in 1980, Zoleka was the daughter of Nelson Mandela’s daughter, Zindzi Mandela. She
leaves behind six children and two precious grandchildren.
Zoleka’s life was marked by remarkable courage as she fearlessly confronted and openly
discussed her battles with drug and alcohol addiction. Her memoir, “When Hope Whispers, “
eloquently portrayed this intimate struggle.” In 2010, tragedy struck when her daughter Zenani,
just 13 years old, lost her life in a car accident near Johannesburg. During that challenging
period, Zoleka herself was in the hospital, recovering from a previous suicide attempt. In the
aftermath of this tragedy, she decided to check into rehab to work on her demons.
Her own battle with breast cancer began at the age of 32, leading to a double mastectomy and
rigorous treatment. Though she initially triumphed over cancer, it resurfaced in 2016. Turning to
social media, Zoleka documented her journey, fervently raising awareness about the disease
and advocating for regular check-ups.
In 2016, the BBC recognized Zoleka as one of their “100 Women,” a distinguished honor
reserved for influential and inspirational figures worldwide. She seized this platform to
encourage women to speak out, undergo testing, and perform self-examinations, tirelessly
emphasizing the importance of silencing cancer before it silences them.
Zoleka expressed a poignant regret that her fervent activism only began after her grandfather’s
passing. Nelson Mandela, the tireless anti-apartheid activist and South Africa’s first president
from 1994 to 1999 left this world in 2013 at the age of 95. She held a hopeful belief that her late
grandfather and daughter were watching over her, swelling with pride at her newfound
commitment to making a positive impact.
News of Zoleka’s passing has left her devoted fan community profoundly saddened, for they
closely followed her remarkable journey.
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