Nurse, Deceased Person
1922 – 2004
Who was Evelyn Mase?
Evelyn Mase was a South African nurse, who was the first wife of the anti-apartheid activist and future politician Nelson Mandela, to whom she was married from 1944 to 1958. She was the mother of four of his children, including Makgatho Mandela and Makaziwe Mandela.
A Xhosa from the Transkei, she was orphaned at an early age, being placed in the care of her brother, political activist Sam Mase. Moving to Soweto, Johannesburg, she met Mandela through her cousin Walter Sisulu and his wife Albertina, subsequently marrying him at the Native Commissioner's Court. Living together as a family in Soweto, they raised four children, with Mandela's mother and sisters spending much time with them: sons Madiba "Thembi" Thembekile and Makgatho Mandela, daughters both named Makaziwe Mandela. However, their relationship came under strain as Mandela became increasingly involved in the African National Congress, organising the Defiance Campaign and Congress of the People, and being charged with sedition during the Treason Trial. Eschewing politics, she became one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Accusing him of adultery, they divorced in 1958, and he went on to marry Winnie Mandela that year.
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