Zoleka Mandela relives painful memories of her last days with Ma Winnie

"I'm crying because you didn't have to keep your dying a secret from any of us," Zoleka wrote.

06 August 2018 - 11:24 By Chrizelda Kekana
Ma Winnie and Zoleka Mandela wore matching outfits to her graduation ceremony a month before the political stalwart died.
Ma Winnie and Zoleka Mandela wore matching outfits to her graduation ceremony a month before the political stalwart died.
Image: Via Instagram

Zoleka Mandela has for the first time spoken out about how her grandmother, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's death has left her completely shattered. 

The entire country was submerged into a state of mourning when Ma Winnie's death was confirmed in April this year. The political stalwart died at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg from a long-standing illness. 

It's no secret that Ma Winnie and Zoleka were inseparable and had a bond that was unshakeable.  

Zoleka, who has been away from the spotlight for the past four months has penned a heart-wrenching letter, which reveals how she's struggling to come to terms with her grandmother's death. 

"I always knew that this loss would completely destroy me, I feel like I don't even recognize myself anymore. Nothing will ever be the same without the one I loved more than I loved myself."

Zoleka said she had so many questions about why Ma Winnie left her without saying goodbye. 

"I know I can't bring myself to pray but with each day that passes, I wish I struggle less with why you left without saying goodbye and with staying up all night so scared and angry about having to live the rest of my life not knowing why you chose not to tell any of us that you were dying."

The emotionally-charged letter was also filled with moments of anger from Zoleka, who slammed people for not being there when Ma Winnie needed support and company. 

"I’m tired of everyone around me pretending to have been the closest person to you. It only hurts more. Where were they when you were suffering in silence and pretending to be okay, when you actually needed their company and not another request from them to take more pictures with you that they are now posting on social media to advance their own interests?"

Zoleka went on to detail the hours that led up to Ma Winnie's death and lashed out over not being there when she took her dying breath. 

"Why did you wait until I left the hospital to go home and change, for you to take your last dying breath without me? Is it because I always fell apart when you got sick or when you were in pain that I never gave you the chance to be weak so I could be strong for you for a change?" 

The author and social activist said she was riddled with guilt that Ma Winnie kept her "dying secret" to herself. 

"I'm sorry, Ma. I'm falling apart at just the thought that you must have felt so alone at that time if you did, I'm crying because you didn't have to keep your dying a secret from any of us. If you needed me to be stronger for you to tell me that you only had a few more days, I know I wasn't and I'm truly sorry. I have so much guilt."

Zoleka shared a heartwarming photo slide along with the letter. Watch it below. 

I have the memories of the last few days constantly streaming through my mind. You've said more to me in your visits, their dreams but I wish you had said something to me on Friday when we attended your last Good Friday service together, do you remember how pensive you were during the church service and how I kept checking if you were okay, you were't sleeping through the entire service as you had started doing? You were always so tired and in pain. I wish I spent the night again when you asked me to that Saturday because you would have woken me up in the early hours of the morning when you felt the tightness in your chest. Ma, I only left because you always want us to talk until the early hours of the morning when we have our sleepovers in your bed and I needed you to rest because you had started feeling sick. I wish you had said something to me when we were alone in your bedroom on Sunday, those moments when I helped you get ready for hospital or when I packed your bag just before we left? I held your hand the entire time we drove to hospital, all you did each time I squeezed your hand was look up and smile but no words. I don't know if you knew that I was waiting outside for you the entire time, you would have hated the thought of me sitting on some chair outside your ward and crying my eyes out and not on the blue lazy boy right next to your hospital bed like I always did? Why did you wait until I left the hospital to go home and change, for you to take your last dying breath without me? Is it because I always fell apart when you got sick or when you were in pain that I never gave you the chance to be weak so I could be strong for you for a change? I'm sorry, Ma. I'm falling apart at just the thought that you must have felt so alone at that time if you did, I'm crying because you didn't have to keep your dying a secret from any of us. If you needed me to be stronger for you to tell me that you only had a few more days, I know I wasn't and I'm truly sorry. I have so much guilt. Please know that when these words I write you and those I say to you are not enough because you don't always respond to me, I want and have always wanted to be everything for you.

A post shared by Zoleka Mandela (@zolekamandela) on

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