‘Knowing Mandela’ reveals Nelson and Winnie Mandela relationship bombshell

Nelson and Winnie Mandela
Nelson and Winnie Mandela

South African author John Carlin wrote the book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation, which was later made into the movie Invictus starring Morgan Freeman as Mandela. Carlin’s new book Knowing Mandela has revealed the reason Mandela never forgave Winnie and cut her out of his will.

In the book, Carlin revealed that Nelson loved Winnie very deeply and wrote sensual and loving letters during is confinement for 27 years. But during that time period Winnie had multiple lovers and was prone to episodes of drunkenness.  This fact was kept from Nelson Mandela during his confinement and after a time when he was released.

knowing Mandela cover

Shortly before Mandela was released from prison she was having an affair with a man named Dali Mpofu, who was 30 years younger than Winnie and one of her lawyers.  Even after Mandela got out of prison, she did not stop the affair. At one point during a visit by Winnie to the United States, Nelson called her private hotel suite and her lover answered the phone. But Winnie later broke off her relationship when she found out Mpofu was cheating on her and got a white lover pregnant.

Carlin writes about a letter Winnie wrote to Mpofu stating, “… Before I am through with you, you are going to learn a bit of honesty and sincerity and know what betrayal of one’s love means to a woman … Remember always how much you have hurt and humiliated me … I keep telling you the situation is deteriorating at home, you are not bothered because you are satisfying yourself every night with a woman. I won’t be your bloody fool, Dali.”

When Nelson Mandela finally divorced his wife in 1996 he told the court “Can I put it simply, my lord? If the entire universe tried to persuade me to reconcile with the defendant, I would not … I am determined to get rid of this marriage.”

Now that Carlin has revealed this information, it is no wonder that Nelson left Winnie nothing in his will.

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.



Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Join Our Newsletter

Get the latest news from Rolling Out.