Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Side by side for former husband's memorial but still miles apart: Winnie and Graca - the ex-wife and widow who call themselves 'sisters' Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, 77, bent down to embrace Graca Machel, 76, before taking her seat Both wore black to the service and were separated by three seats Winnie previously described Nelson Mandela's widow as her 'little sister'

Nelson Mandela's ex-wife Winnie bent down to kiss his widow Graca Machel at the memorial on Tuesday
The two women in Mandela's life, Winnie (left) and Graca (right), sat three seats apart
The pair embraced for a few moments before Winnie took her seat at the start of the memorial
The two women, both wearing black jackets, dresses and turbans, held on to each other for a few moments, but while Winnie was smiling, Graca simply stared ahead, her face drawn.
Both women are hugely respected by many in South Africa and were loudly cheered by the crowd in the stadium. Winnie is admired for her role in the struggle against apartheid; Graca for the selfless grace with which she looked after Mr Mandela in his old age having married him in 1998.
Graca Machel married Mandela (pictured together in 2002) on his 80th birthday and is commended for nursing him through years of ill health
Graca Machel, pictured with US President Barack Obama, was given a warm reception at the memorial
Their divorce was finalised six years after he walked free, but Winnie fought the divorce in court and still uses the Mandela name, having added it to her maiden name. Winnie, who was Mr Mandela’s second wife, visited him occasionally during the 181 days he was ill before his death.
Winnie Madikizela Mandela said she and Graca Machal (pictured, left, on Nelson Mandela's 86th birthday) said they refer to one another as sisters
Nelson and Winnie Mandela (pictured in 1991) divorced in 1996. Although married for 38 years, 27 of those where while he was imprisoned
‘Winnie and Graca were at the bedside of Madiba. You could see the tension.’