OVER a week ago there was a public reading of the summary of the will and testament of the late Nelson Mandela.
Wills have often been blamed for dividing families and causing untold angst. A will is a legal document which effectively stipulates the way in which the deceased would like to have his or her estate distributed or managed upon their passing.
I was relieved to hear that no one would be contesting the will. Or maybe it’s still early days. However, I have always been of the strong opinion that a will articulates the wishes of the deceased and any omissions from the will are not by accident, but are deliberate.
I don’t think being someone’s child or sharing the same surname gives one the right to feel entitled to be a beneficiary in someone’s estate.
If they decide to leave a large portion to the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) or some endowment fund let their will be done.
There is a tendency in us humans to want to reap where we did not sow.
Shortly after the contents of the Mandela will were released there was a huge debate as to why Graca Machel, Mandela’s third wife got the lion’s share and Winnie got nothing.
Assertions were made that Mandela had not forgiven Winnie yet he had managed to forgive his oppressors. I don’t know if this implies that Mandela’s forgiveness was supposed to be meted out in gold coins?
As far as I am aware Winnie is his ex-wife. I don’t know how many people out there would honestly put their hands up and leave an inheritance to their ex-wives or husbands. I could understand the desire to leave an inheritance to the children sired in a marriage with an ex, but the obligation surely doesn’t extend to the ex in question. More so when that spouse might have benefited in a generous divorce settlement.
However, all those outraged on Winnie’s behalf were silenced when Zindzi Mandela took to social media and aptly declared: “Media reports that my mother was left out of the will are mischievous and sensationalist. She never attended the reading of the will as she didn’t regard herself as a beneficiary. Why would she expect to be maintained after his passing when she was never maintained during his lifetime?”
I think in all fairness, it was a just distribution of his estate. Those who benefited from his money while he was still alive were not given anything posthumously.
However, what certainly raised eyebrows was Mandela’s generosity towards Graca’s children, Josina and Malengan who were sired by Samora. Madiba went further and also bequeathed some money to six of Samora’s children from his first marriage.
However, it should be known that Graca raised these children as her own following her marriage to Samora. So it would seem appropriate to also encompass them into the will.
It’s been barely two months since Mandela’s passing and already there are allegations of the existence of two love children who are claiming recognition. It is alleged that Mandela sired two love kids, Onica Mothoa and Mpho Mpule while married to Evelyn Mase, his first wife. Look, I won’t write off these allegations as completely false. There could be a possibility that these children are indeed his.
This is a story that often plays itself out at many African funerals where children creep out of the woodwork seeking acknowledgement as well as a claim to the deceased’s estate. My gripe has always been why wait to be acknowledged at someone’s grave site? Why not initiate that while the person is still alive?
However, it would appear that in Mothoa’s case she has been trying since 2003 to establish her paternity claims and this amounted to zero. If Mandela failed to acknowledge her while he was still alive, who will do so in his absence? These two have lived all these years without Mandela; what will change now?
They cannot establish a relationship with him now. Conversely, I appreciate that as humans we have an innate desire to belong and a name gives us much-needed identity. Mothoa insists that the Mandela name is a legacy she wants to bequeath to her children and grandchildren. So stands her will; it has nothing to do with money, but a lot do with legacy.
So just like money that can be distributed in a will there are other intangible items like legacies that can continue to be passed from generation to generation. So maybe we should let Motheo and Mpho be in their determination to be recognised. Maybe it’s in this knowledge they will find peace of mind.
Sukoluhle Nyathi is the author of the Polygamist. You can follow her on Twitter @SueNyathi