- Winnie and Nelson Mandela were the picture of a perfect couple
- They met in 1957 after Mandela wooed her while he was still married to his first wife,
- But, after a marriage lasting over three decades, Madiba said he felt nothing but loneliness in his relationship with Winnie
South Africans have lost both Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, two of the most influential people in our history.
They fought without rest for the freedom of all South Africans during the Apartheid era, and they did it together.
So, Briefly.co.za decided to take a look at the tragic love story of Winnie and Madiba.
The pair met in 1957, while he was still married to his first wife Evelyn Mase. Mandela reportedly spotted the 22-year-old at a bus stop in Soweto, where he quickly charmed her into a date.
Winnie and Mandela tied the knot only a year later in 1958, the same year in which they welcomes their first child. By 1960, the couple was blessed with two beautiful daughters and life was good.
But, tragedy struck in 1962 when Madiba was captured and put on trial. The mother of two young children had to watch as her husband got sentenced to jail.
Winnie stayed by her husband's side throughout his 27-year-prison sentence, she was his voice while he was imprisoned on Robin Island.
They were finally reunited when he was released in 1990. However, the honeymoon was over for the couple.
In 1992, just two years after his release, the former president announced his split from the woman, whom he called "the mother of the nation".
During their divorce proceedings, it became evident that Mandela was miserable in the marriage South Africans regarded as perfect.
Winnie wanted to safe her relationship, but Mandela did not have any of it, adding she had been unfaithful and he wanted nothing more than to end their marriage.
Mandela took the stand at the trial, which lasted a week and said, “If the entire universe persuaded me to reconcile with the defendant I would not ... I am determined to get rid of the marriage.”
As Briefly.co.za reportedly previously, Madiba said he felt nothing but loneliness during his marriage to Winnie, a statement which came as a shock to South Africans.
The country looked on as the then most powerful and influential couple finalised their divorce in 1996.
Although they were no longer married, and Mandela tied the knot to his third wife Graca Machel, the pair remained in each other's lives.
Winnie even visited her ex-husband during the last years of his life while his health was deteriorating.
The couple never reunited romantically, but until this day South Africans remember the power of their love.
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