A soul-searching look at the Nelson and Winnie Mandela marriage comes in a new biography by Johnny Steinberg which seeks to humanise the couple who were leaders and symbols of the barbaric tragedy of an apartheid South Africa and its eventual fall. The author said: ‘I want both to demythologise Winnie and Nelson and to preserve their myths, if that makes sense. To show that they were real, flawed human beings but that the myths they lived and embodied were necessary. They both strived, quite self-consciously, for greatness, but one cannot be both great and happy.’
Mandela spent 27 years in prison and was described by a close aide as the saddest human being she’d ever met. He was delighted to be the most famous living person in the world because it was politically useful. But he never believed that fame would bring him happiness or compensate for what had been lost. Winnie after years of torture and abuse from the South African police became brutalised and corrupt, with Nelson racked with guilt over his shortcomings as a father and a husband.
When they married in 1958, Nelson was a celebrity freedom-fighter. After he was jailed and disappeared from view, Winnie became a star in her own right, dubbed “mother of the nation” for her defiance, before she became embroiled in gangsterism in the final years of the “struggle”. They divorced after he was released because of her infidelity and he remarried but at the end it was Winnie he wanted at his side on his deathbed.
Nelson Mandela was born 18 July 1918 2.54 pm Umtata, South Africa and had an 8th house Cancer Sun trine a Scorpio Moon and inconjunct Uranus in Aquarius. His Sun was on the focal point of a Yod to Uranus sextile a Sagittarius Ascendant marking him out for a singular path, dramatic, transformational and challenging. His knowledgeable and communicative Saturn Mercury in Leo in his 9th with idealistic Neptune nearby in the late 8th squared his Moon – good at spreading the word and less good at finding emotional nurturing. He had a lucky and powerfully influential Jupiter Pluto in Cancer in his 7th house giving him the gift of connecting one-to-one with the public at large. His Pluto was square Mars in his 10th which would make for a lifetime of major frustrations – and that Astro-signature is writ large in his victim/healer 12th harmonic.
His breakthrough 13H is strong as is his global influencer 22H.
Winnie, 26 September 1934, no birth time, was a Sun Libra inconjunct the rebel planet Uranus; with a super-confident Jupiter Mercury in Libra square Pluto ; and a cruel-treatment Mars in Leo opposition Saturn in Aquarius. She had a Yod of Pluto sextile Venus inconjunct Saturn, which would give her a heavy burden to bear especially with her Saturn opposition her Mars.
Her Pluto was conjunct Nelson’s 8th house Sun for a deep and enduring connection. Her Mars was conjunct his Saturn, perhaps a hint of the ill-treatment she bore in his absence and the anger it aroused in her.
Their relationship chart had a composite Sun, Neptune, Jupiter inconjunct Uranus – descriptive of the visionary idealism which tied them together, not always realistic or in step but a powerful dream to follow and ultimately make real. With a tough composite Saturn trine Mars sextile Pluto.
A marriage of hope and tears.