Obituary for Evelyn Ntoko Mase (1922 - 2004)

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Evelyn Ntoko Mase

1922 - 2004

Evelyn Ntoko Mase was born on 18 May 1922 in Engcobo, Transkei. She was the daughter of a mineworker who died at an early age. He mother died when she was 12 and she then moved on to live with her family in Soweto. Evelyn was the first wife of the former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela. Evelyn was an African National Congress Activist and a nurse from Engcobo, Transkei.

Evelyn met Nelson Mandela through family friends Walter and Albertina Sisulu, subsequently marrying him at the Native Commissioner's Court. Evelyn married the former state president 05 October 1944 and they had four children Madiba Thembekile Mandela (born 1945, died 13 July 1969 aged 24), Makaziwe Mandela (died 1948 aged nine months), Magkatho Lewanika Mandela (born 1950, died 6 January 2005 aged 55) and Pumla Makaziwe Mandela (born 1954). She divorced Nelson Mandela 19 March 1958. However, their relationship came under strain as Nelson Mandela became increasingly involved in the African National Congress, organising the Defiance Campaign and Congress of the People, and being charged with sedition during the Treason Trial. Eschewing politics, she converted to the Jehovah's Witness religious movement. Accusing him of adultery, they divorced in 1958, and he went on to marry Winnie Mandela that year.

Evelyn moved to Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape, where she opened up a shop, and pinned a notice to the gate asking media to leave her alone. She remained a Mandela until 1998, when she married a fellow Jehovah's Witness and retired Sowetan businessman, Simon Rakeepile.

She died on 30 April 2004. Nelson Mandela attended the funeral along with his second and third wives.

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