1. Behind Every Great Man...
They say that every man owes his success in some way to a great woman…or a few. While Nelson Mandela was a bit of a “ladies man," the three wives he had over his career proved to be invaluable partners and assets to his political life. The South African leader also leaves behind three daughters and a host of women supporters. Here is a look at some of the warrior women in his life story.
2. Evelyn Mase
Evelyn was Mandela’s first wife when the two married in 1944, which was the same year he co-founded the African National Congress Youth League. The first few years of marriage were considerably joyous, but Mase later grew impatient of Mandela’s absences. She even said he showed off female “political colleagues” in front of her.
3. Winnie Mandela
After divorcing Mase the year before, Mandela met Winnie and married her in 1958. Their union is arguably his most memorable, considering that Mandela wouldn't be the iconic leader we know today without her. It was Winnie who became the leader of the African National Congress and changed its slogan from "Death to Apartheid" to "Free Mandela." The rest is history.
4. Graca Machel
After Winnie and Mandela divorced, Machel became Mandela's third wife in 1996. Many called her "Mozambique’s Jackie Kennedy" because of her outward poise. However, she was courageous in her own right and was honored with many awards, including the Laureate of Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger.
5. Makaziwe Mandela
Makaziwe is Mandela's daughter from his first marriage with Evelyn and the only living daughter from their courtship. After earning her Ph.D in anthropology from the University of Massachusetts, she became the head of the Industrial Development Group. Makaziwe admits, however, that she wasn't always sure her father loved her. She says their relationship got better once Mandela was in prison.
6. Zindziswa ‘Zindzi’ Mandela
Zindzi said she's proud of her father's legacy and the film that recognized her family's story, but this Mandela daughter also made headlines of her own. In 2012, she was ordered to pay more than $7 million to boxing promoter Duane Moody for failing to stage a fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
7. Zenani Mandela
Zenani and Zindziswa both found out about their father's passing at the premiere of their father's biopic, "Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom." She walked the red carpet with her sister and understands the importance of her father's legacy.
8. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah has repeatedly mentioned that a visit to Mandela’s home directly inspired her to build her Leadership Academy for Girls. Sitting in his living room, the two were talking about ending poverty in South Africa when Oprah revealed that she wanted to build a school. “He got up, literally jumped up, called the Minister of Education and set me up on the phone with the Minister of Education,” Oprah recalled.
9. Naomi Campbell
The controversial supermodel, who’s had infamous tantrums and a battle with drugs, referenced Mandela as her “honorary grandfather” in 2010. She even said she wanted to “transform her life” and dedicate her time to a children’s charity that Mandela recommended. “I don’t know why he reached out to me or what he sees in me,” she said. “Every time I’ve made a mistake, he’s told me to keep my head up and keep going."
10. Naomie Harris
Harris plays Winnie Mandela in "Long Walk to Freedom" and admitted the role of playing the icon from the ages of 21 to 57 years old took a toll on her. Harris prepared for the role by watching interviews and reading books on Winnie. "She got stuck in me, in a deep way that no other character has ever done so far," she said.
11. Jennifer Hudson
The Oscar-winning actress admits that even she was intimidated by the task of playing Winnie Mandela in the upcoming eponymous film. “I thought, `If I’m not going to hop in at 100 percent, maybe I should go home,'" said Hudson. "I actually had that moment where I was contemplating, ‘Can I handle this?’'"