MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Even after Nelson Mandela’s death, the work of the South African leader lives on through his family. Mandela’s oldest daughter traveled to South Florida to support a local charity.
She sat down with CBS4 anchor Irika Sargent for an exclusive interview to discuss her commitment to her father’s causes and her complex relationship with him.
Dr. Makaziwe Mandela, or Maki as she likes to be called, remembers those final days spent with Nelson Mandela. “I was there. I would massage his feet, his hands and I’m glad that I did that,” Maki said.
To much of the world, he was an anti-apartheid revolutionary, imprisoned for 27 years, and later the first black president of South Africa. For Maki, he was father. “My dad always said we shouldn’t forget who we are and where we come from,” Maki said.
And she has vowed to carry on his legacy. That is what brought her from South Africa to South Florida, to raise awareness about the charity A Spring of Hope.
It was founded by a South Florida woman, Joanne Young and her daughter, who visited a South African school while on vacation years ago and saw the need for help there. Charity volunteers now build wells to provide clean water to rural schools in the country.
Make believes the charity’s goals are a good match to her father’s passion for education. “My father I think by the time he closed his eyes had built about a hundred schools,” said Maki.
A Spring of Hope has helped provided clean water to at least 27 schools in South Africa. With supporters like Maki, the charity is raising enough money to continue its work.
But Maki admitted she wasn’t always close to her father. Their relationship was a complex, and at times difficult one. For most of her childhood he was gone. Their only visits were separated by glass in the prison where he was held.
“I was angry,” Maki said. “I was bitter because I could see other children enjoying both parents and I couldn’t understand why I didn’t.
It took decades for Maki to reach a turning point, accepting that her father felt a duty not just to their family, but to the world. “I think in my thirties, a little voice said to me if you continue with this anger and bitterness, you are just going to self-destruct,” said Maki. “I had made peace with him and myself.”
Maki loved and cared for her father as he got sicker. Now, it has been a year since the world mourned Nelson Mandela’s death with Maki and her family.
The pain of losing him is still fresh in many ways. But in those times, Maki said she finds strength in her father’s words and these life lessons he shared.
“All of us as human beings in this world are not born with hate. We are taught to hate. Surely we can be taught to love” Maki said reciting her father’s words.