How many kids does Nelson Mandela have? Nelson Mandela has fathered six children with three wives, and the beloved former South African president and anti-apartheid leader has 17 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, according to NelsonMandela.org.
Mandela had four children—two sons and two daughters—with his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, who he married in October 1944. In 1945, Mase gave birth to the couple’s first child, a boy they named Madiba “Thembi” Thembekile, and in 1948, they welcomed the first of two daughters to be named Makaziwe Mandela. Known as “Maki,” she died at nine months of age. In 1950, Nelson Mandela and his wife celebrated the arrival of their second son, Makgatho Mandela, and in 1954, they had their second daughter, named Makaziwe Mandela in honor of their first baby girl.
Only three of Nelson Mandela’s six kids are still living, and Makaziwe is the only surviving child from his first marriage. (Madiba “Thembi” Thembekile died in 1969, while Makgatho lived until 2005.) Nelson Mandela divorced Mase in 1957, and after marrying Winnie Madikizela-Mandela—the first black social worker in Johannesburg, South Africa—in 1958, he became the father of two more daughters: Zenani, or Zeni, born February 1959, and Zindziswa (Zindizi), who arrived in 1960.
Two of Nelson Mandela’s surviving daughters, Makaziwe and Zenani, made headlines in May 2013, when they seemed intent on suing their father—by this time 94 years old, ailing, and rarely seen in public—for control of his artwork and various companies, according to the Irish Times. While some blasted Maki and Zenani for taking legal action at a time when the “father of the nation” was known to frail and perhaps nearing death, Nelson Mandela’s great-grandchildren issued a statement regarding the case.
“Our mothers, aunts and lawyer have our full support” they said, explaining that the suit was not motivated by “money and exploitation of the Mandela name.”