- Winnie and Nelson Mandela got married many decades ago in 1958
- Only a few years later, Madiba was sent to serve time on Robben Island
- After 38 years together, the couple divorced in 1996
The enduring love of Winnie and Nelson Mandela had been a symbol of hope and prosperity during the fight for liberation in South Africa. The couple became icons in the struggle against apartheid, and their determination inspired many South Africans to continue striving for freedom.
So, when the couple announced their separation on 19 March, 1996, many South Africans were surprised
The love story began in 1958 when Winnie married Nelson - a banned political activist who needed to request permission from the government to participate in his own wedding.
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In 1963, after just a few years together, the unthinkable happened and Nelson Mandela was cast into a Robben Island prison cell to serve a life sentence, Briefly.co.za found.
While Madiba was on the inside Winnie continued the fight, never flailing in her duties and standing strong against the threats of imprisonment, torture and oppression.
Winnie and Nelson consistently wrote to each other as their love continued to blossom. Many believe their separation took a toll on their relationship. Post-1990, it was an entirely different world for the newly-liberated couple. After six years of freedom together, the couple announced they were getting a divorce.
After an extensive 38 years of marriage, most of which was spent while Madiba was behind bars, the couple officially divorced, citing the standard 'irreconcilable differences' as the cause.
Having formed an unbreakable bond during their long relationship, Winnie and Nelson remained extremely close, even after the divorce. After Madiba remarried, his new wife, Graca Machel, often joked that both her and Winnie were his wives.
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