Who Is Nelson Mandela’s Wife?

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Who is Nelson Mandela’s wife? Nelson Mandela is married to Graca Machel, his third wife. Nelson Mandela married Machel on July 18, 1998—his 80th birthday—just over two years after divorcing his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who he married in 1958. The famed South African leader and anti-apartheid crusader had two of his six children with Winnie—both daughters (Zenani and Zindziswa, or Zindizi), both still alive.

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Nelson Mandela married his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, in 1944, and before the couple divorced in March 1958, they had four children, only of one of whom—daughter Makiziwe—is still alive.

Who is Nelson Mandela’s wife? Graca Machel was born in 1945, and from 1975 to 1986, before tying the knot with Nelson Mandela and becoming First Lady of South Africa, she was married for just over 10 years—November 1975 to October 1986—to Samora Machel, president of Mozambique. That gives Graca Machel the distinction of being the only woman in history to have been first lady of two nations, according to the Guinness World Records website.

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Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, is known as a politician and humanitarian, and after working as a schoolteacher (she hold a bachelor’s degree in German philosophy from the University of Lisbon), she served as Minister of Education and Culture of Mozambique, holding the post until 1989. After Samora Machel died in a plane crash in 1986, Graca “threw even greater energies into her country’s development and intensified her work on behalf of children world-wide,” according to the official website of the Foundation for Community Development, for which she serves as president.

Nelson Mandela’s wife was famous for good works even before marrying South Africa’s first black president, and in 1992, The Hunger Project awarded her its Laureate of Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger. Three years later, she was given the Nansen Medal in honor of her work on behalf of refugee children. In 1997, having been tapped by the United Nations to serve as chairperson of the Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict of Children, Graca Machel won a humanitarian award from InterAction, according to UNFoundation.org.

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“Who is Nelson Mandela’s wife” is a question many have asked since June 8, 2013, when the 94-year-old civil-rights icon was admitted to a hospital with a lung infection. Nelson Mandela was said to be in “serious but stable” condition, according to the BBC, and Graca Machel cancelled a scheduled appearance in London to be by his bedside.

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