Gra�a Machel, widow of Nelson Mandela, wipes her tears during his funeral ceremony in Qunu. Picture: Reuters


After six months of mourning her “soulmate”, Graça Machel has announced she will return to public life.

Nelson Mandela’s widow said she would return to her active role as a global advocate for women’s and children’s rights, with the aim of fulfilling Mandela’s last wish.

“I was fortunate that in Madiba I found a soulmate and a fellow advocate for children and women’s rights. I am inspired by his rich legacy that promotes justice, compassion and solidarity,” she said.

“Children were very dear to Madiba and his last wish was to build the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.” She said she shared this dream and would work to have it fulfilled in her lifetime.

Since Mandela’s death, Machel and his ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, have been wearing black as a sign of mourning and have not been permitted to make public appearances.

A cleansing ceremony was performed in Qunu earlier this month that was attended by family to mark the end of the mourning period.

Machel said South Africa had lost its “father of democracy and leader”. She said the world had lost an internationally respected icon.

“I lost my best friend, beloved husband and guide.”

She had been deeply touched and comforted by the affection shown towards her family and herself throughout Mandela’s illness and in the wake of his death.

Earlier this month, Mandela’s former PA, Zelda la Grange, published a book in which she illustrated sensational details of the friction Machel had to endure as a member of the Mandela family and how family politics took a heavy toll on her.

“I would like to thank our family, friends and the people throughout the world who gave me love and support during these difficult times,” Machel said.

She said her priorities now involved continuing to advocate for an expanded space for women in Africa to access better opportunities in economic, political and social spheres.

“I will work with others to protect the rights of children, fight for an end to child marriage, ensure we continue to make progress on child survival and development, as well as promote the attainment of quality education for all children,” she said.

On Monday Machel will welcome more than 1 000 international delegates to Joburg as part of her role as African ambassador for A Promise Renewed at the third Partners’ Forum.

The Partners’ Forum will focus on progress made in the health of women, children and newborns, and the post-2015 development agenda.

- Pretoria News Weekend

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