Mandela’s grandson Mandla under pressure over embracing Islam

Mandla Mandela with his new wife, Rabia.

Mandla Mandela with his new wife, Rabia.

Traditional leaders in South Africa have expressed “disquiet” over chief Mandla Mandela’s conversion to Islam.

The Congress of Traditional Leaders in South Africa (Contralesa) told the BBC that being Muslim could affect his ability to uphold Xhosa traditions.

Mandla, the grandson of late Nelson Mandela, got married in a Cape Town mosque last week.

“I am honored and delighted to announce my marriage to Rabia Clarke, in Cape Town. I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Rabia’s parents, her extended family and the Muslim community, for welcoming me into their hearts,” he said in a statement.

“Although Rabia and I were raised in different cultural and religious traditions, our coming together reflects what we have in common: We are South Africans,” Mandla said.

Hotel staff were sworn to secrecy and were not allowed to speak of the wedding. Little is known of the new bride.

In 2013, family disputes raised to the surface only months before Nelson Mandela’s death. The feud erupted and led to questioning of Mandla’s leadership legitimacy as head of clan.

Mandla has been married three times previously. In 2004, he married Tando Mabuna-Mandela in a civil ceremony.

He is still legally married to her and has been in a longstanding divorce struggle centered on community property disputes.

In 2010, he married Anais Grimaud in a traditional ceremony. His third marriage to Mbali Makhathini was declared null and void by the courts in 2014.


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