Graca Machel, Mandela Widow, Speaks For First Time Since Husband’s Death

More than six months after Nelson Mandela’s passing, widow and prominent activist Graca Machel has decided to break her silence regarding his husband’s death, the legacy he left and the intimate relationship they molded together.

Machel, who has not been seen in public since the death of Mandela according to Telegraph, is now slowly getting herself to make appearances. A hospital will be built in Mandela’s honor will commence construction today and will be actively supported by Graca Machel herself. In a statement, Machel said that she will be dedicating most of her time overseeing the construction of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.

The hospital, which will be completed in 2016, will employ 150 doctors and 451 pediatric nursing professionals. The medical institute will focus on delivering quality health care for the children of South Africa.

She further stated that she will be continuing with her humanitarian work.

Machel remembered the legacy Mandela left for South Africa and for the world:

“In December 2013, Madiba passed on and South Africa lost its father of democracy and leader, and the world lost an internationally respected icon”

She continued:

“I lost my best friend, beloved husband, and guide. I have been deeply touched and comforted by the affection shown towards my family and I since Madiba’s [Mandela’s clan name] illness through to the present moment.”

“I would like to thank our family, friends, and the people throughout the world who gave me love and support during these difficult times.”

“I was fortunate that in Madiba I found a soul mate and a fellow advocate for children and women’s rights. I am inspired by his rich legacy that promotes justice, compassion, and solidarity.”

“Children were very dear to Madiba and his last wish was to build the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. This is my dream too and I wish it can be realised in my life time.”

Graca Machel is the very first woman in history to become the first lady of two countries. A Mozambican, Machel was once married to Mozambique’s first president Samora Machel until his death in 1986. During this time, Mandela was still serving time in prison and was still married to controversial figure Winnie Mandela. Machel married Mandela in 1998, during the latter’s last year in office.

Nelson Mandela’s death was brought about by years of battle with respiratory ailments. The news of his passing shook the international political scene, which almost unanimously perceived Mandela as a champion of equality. His widow, Graca Machel, promises to continue his late husband’s legacy.

[Image from World Economic Forum via Flickr]