Zoleka Mandela: I have never felt like I belonged in my family
Nelson Mandela's granddaughter, Zoleka, has been very open about her turbulent life: Abusing drugs and lying to her family was her reality. In an emotional message on social media she said she has never felt like she belonged, but does recognise that has been very privileged.
Zoleka, who is a cancer survivor, said she is always asked what it is like being a Mandela. She said she has always been the black sheep of the family and never felt like she deserved to be a Mandela.
"I've always been the black sheep of the family having abused alcohol and drugs for over 10yrs of my life. I've stolen, humiliated, lied to them, disrespected, hurt and shamed my family trying to numb myself from the physical and sexual abuse of my childhood and teenage years. Although I've never felt like I belonged in my family or that I deserved to be a part of such a family, I know how remarkably privileged I am to have my grandparents love me and afford me the numerous platforms I have been blessed with, to finally use the voice that I never thought I had."
She has often spoken of her past and how she battled to break free from her demons. And as she details her struggle, some have labeled her an attention seeker.
"Some call it attention seeking but that's okay with me, they're not as ready to deal with the darkest parts of themselves that had me attempting to suppress mine with sex, alcohol and drugs. I guess my life is an unwarranted reminder to them of how desperate they are to free themselves of the darkness within them they are not able or ready to deal with."
She said she is constantly reminded of what really matters.
" I believe that my journey with breast cancer, alcoholism, drug addiction, child loss, sexual and physical abuse will remind those whose lives have been touched by these; "Societal ills," that continue to plague our communities, of how their stories deserve to be heard as much as mine. We all have a voice that is valuable enough to make the lives of those rendered silent, worth living."