CityPress - - Front Page - BIÉNNE HUIS­MAN and LUBA­BALO NGCUKANA bi­enne.huis­man@city­

‘Mashal­lah!” (It is as God in­tended) ex­claimed mem­bers of South Africa’s Mus­lim com­mu­nity af­ter Rabia Clarke mar­ried Mandla Man­dela in an Is­lamic cer­e­mony in Cape Town last Satur­day. At the Kens­ing­ton mosque, re­spected imam Sheikh Ebrahim Gabriels per­formed the nikaah mar­riage cer­e­mony, de­scrib­ing it as “a mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion” that he hoped would help break down cul­tural bar­ri­ers in the coun­try.

Gabriels, the for­mer pres­i­dent of the Mus­lim Ju­di­cial Coun­cil, told City Press that Clarke’s father, As­lam, a med­i­cal-equip­ment busi­ness­man from Pinelands, had ver­i­fied Man­dela’s con­ver­sion to Is­lam.

Gabriels said Man­dela con­verted in Novem­ber last year. How­ever, he did not change his first name, which many do when con­vert­ing.

In a speech at the wed­ding cer­e­mony, Man­dela told guests that his grand­fa­ther, the late Nelson Man­dela, had re­spected South Africa’s Mus­lim com­mu­nity be­cause of its sup­port dur­ing the apartheid years.

Af­ter the cer­e­mony, the new­ly­weds hosted a lav­ish lunch re­cep­tion at Cape Town’s five-star 15 on Or­ange Ho­tel for 150 guests – which in­cluded only a hand­ful of Man­dela’s fam­ily mem­bers. His mother, No­lusapho, at­tended.

A wit­ness at the ho­tel said: “Most of the guests were [Rabia’s] fam­ily and friends. He had about four rel­a­tives here, in­clud­ing his mother. The rest were all Mus­lim peo­ple from her side. It seemed as if ev­ery­body got along fine, though. It was ro­man­tic, with a lekker vibe.”

No al­co­hol was served at the re­cep­tion, held in the ho­tel’s con­fer­ence room, where Cape Malay chicken curry with toasted al­monds, grilled prawns, pan-fried kingk­lip and grilled Spring­bok formed part of the buf­fet spread.

The ta­bles were cov­ered in sil­ver flo­ral tex­tured cloth and dec­o­rated with square glass vases con­tain­ing sim­ple ar­range­ments of lilies and lisianthus flow­ers in lilac – the same shade as Man­dela’s tie. The ar­range­ments were by lo­cal florist Johnny An­gel, who told City Press the bride had been “very spe­cific” but “very kind”. Each guest’s ta­ble set­ting in­cluded a palm-sized, bead-en­crusted gift box.

The venue, with its eight sil­ver-framed plasma screens, is quoted at R33 000 for a full day’s use, ex­clud­ing ta­ble dé­cor and food.

The wed­ding guests had a long lunch, but there was no danc­ing. They left the venue at about 5pm.

Staff said Mandla (42) and Rabia (22) had pho­to­graphs taken all over the ho­tel – some of which the proud groom posted on Twit­ter this week. “Bless­ing from above. My wife and I,” he added to one pic­ture.

The pho­to­graphs show the bride in an el­e­gant, faded pink gauze gown with fine-lace bodice de­tail.

Man­dela, an ANC MP since 2009, shocked many when he ar­rived at the state of the na­tion ad­dress this week flanked by his third wife, Mbalenhle Makhathini, who took the Xhosa name Nodiyala. Rabia is his fourth bride.

He said in a state­ment this week: “I wish to ex­tend my heart­felt grat­i­tude to Rabia’s par­ents, her ex­tended fam­ily and the Mus­lim com­mu­nity for wel­com­ing me into their hearts.”

On Mon­day, Gabriels told Ra­dio Is­lam: “I was very hon­oured to of­fi­ci­ate at the wed­ding cer­e­mony be­tween Nkosi Zwe­liv­elile Mandla Man­dela, the grand­son of our great leader, the father of South Africa, and Rabia Clarke.

“There is no racism in Is­lam ... Man­dela would have been a very proud man on Satur­day for his grand­son to get mar­ried into the Mus­lim com­mu­nity.”

Os­man Sha­boo­d­ien, an­other prom­i­nent mem­ber of Cape Town’s Mus­lim com­mu­nity and the chair­per­son of the Bo-Kaap Civic As­so­ci­a­tion, told City Press he sup­ported the cou­ple whole­heart­edly.

“Put it this way: it’s very re­fresh­ing. In South Africa, we used to have mixed re­la­tion­ships, but apartheid de­stroyed that. We need to re­build,” he said.

How­ever, Man­dela’s con­ver­sion did not sit well with his vil­lagers or tra­di­tional lead­ers.

Vil­lagers in Mvezo re­acted mostly with shock to the news of Man­dela’s fourth mar­riage.

He is still legally mar­ried to his es­tranged first wife, Tando Mabunu-Man­dela, with whom he is in a pro­tracted di­vorce set­tle­ment dis­pute over as­sets.

Mabunu-Man­dela’s lawyer, Wes­ley Hayes, told City Press she planned to ap­proach the high court in Mthatha this week to an­nul the lat­est mar­riage – as she did with Man­dela’s pre­vi­ous ones to Makhathini, who he mar­ried in 2011, and Re­union-born Anaïs Gri­maud, who he wed in 2010.

An el­derly vil­lager, who asked not to be named, said: “He nor­mally tells us ev­ery­thing as his peo­ple. But in this case, we only learnt from the me­dia about his mar­riage.

“We hope he is go­ing to re­turn to Mvezo to in­tro­duce his new wife and ex­plain what is go­ing on. We are con­fused.”

The el­derly man added that Man­dela had in­di­cated last year that he wanted a fourth wife.

A fe­male res­i­dent of the vil­lage said they dared not speak out against the mar­riage.

“We can­not risk talk­ing about the chief like this. Nkosi Zwe­liv­elile [Mandla’s praise name] gives us jobs. We do not ar­gue with him. All we say is ‘yes, chief’ to ev­ery­thing he wants done. No­body would dare ob­ject to him.”

Vil­lagers said they had not seen much of their chief lately.

“His mother runs the chief­taincy while he is busy in Par­lia­ment. Our fear is that he is go­ing to con­vert all of us into his new-found re­li­gion,” said an­other vil­lager.

Daludumo Mti­rara, spokesper­son for the royal house of the king­dom of abaThembu, said Man­dela’s mar­riage was an in­ter­nal fam­ily mat­ter and the great house had not been briefed about it.

Mean­while, Noku­zola Mn­dende, di­rec­tor of the Ica­m­agu In­sti­tute that deals with African cul­ture and spirituality, called on Man­dela to step down as a tra­di­tional leader be­cause he had turned his back on his an­ces­tors and “to­tally changed his iden­tity”. Mn­dende said Man­dela would face the wrath of the an­ces­tors if he did not apol­o­gise by ap­peas­ing them.

“He is sup­posed to be the cus­to­dian of African cul­ture, but he has un­der­mined it. He con­verted to Is­lam, where many things con­tra­dict the cul­ture he claims to lead. In Is­lam, they do not in­voke an­ces­tors, whereas this is cen­tral to our cul­ture,” she said. Man­dela could no longer pre­side over cer­e­monies in his vil­lage, she added. “Mandla has a right to be­lieve in Is­lam, as pre­scribed by the Con­sti­tu­tion, but he can­not lead his com­mu­nity, which be­longs to an­other re­li­gion,” said Mn­dende.

Rabia, she said, would never be ac­cepted by the Man­dela an­ces­tors un­til a rit­ual (ut­siki) was per­formed to wel­come her to the clan.

“He needs to per­form an ap­peas­ing rit­ual [angx­engx­eze] if he wants his things to go well. Oth­er­wise, it is go­ing to be one mis­for­tune af­ter an­other. Even if he can be a Mus­lim, he is still fac­ing the wrath of the an­ces­tors,” said Mn­dende.



Mandla Man­dela and his bride, Rabia, had an Is­lamic wed­ding


YES Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela was one of the red car­pet high­lights in her ca­nary-yel­low Gert-Jo­han Coetzee gown. Coetzee has pre­vi­ously made sim­i­lar ca­nary-yel­low stun­ners for stars Bo­nang Matheba and Min­nie Dlamini. The dra­matic trail was fab and Thuli looked like the belle of the ball


YES Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba and his wife, Noma. ‘Gigs’ went for his triedand-tested look, while Noma sparkled in her gold gown YES AND MAYBE Deputy Min­is­ter Bheki ‘The Gen­eral’ Cele looked cool and so did his el­e­gant wife, Them­beka Ngcobo


YES Mvezo Tra­di­tional Coun­cil chief Mandla Man­dela and his wife Nodiyala have been look­ing great in their re­gional out­fits on Sona’s red car­pet for sev­eral years MAYBE Pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer Thoko Didiza wore a busy printed blouse, but she bal­anced it very well with a solid­colour fish­tail skirt on the Sona red car­pet YES Min­is­ter Fik­ile ‘Fleek-ile’ Mbalula and his wife, Nozuko, were an­other great­look­ing pair. The min­is­ter, in his navy blue suit and brogues, was a dap­per com­pan­ion for his fab­u­lous part­ner

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