October 02, 2023

Zoleka Mandela's baby daddy on his grief and his name making it to 'the list'

Zoleka Mandela and Andile Cana in happier times
Picture: Supplied

Matching outfits, family holidays and romantic snaps- they were the picture-perfect couple on social media. They branded themselves #UTekkieNoSlamba. But since the death of activist and author, Zoleka Mandela, who died from a long battle with cancer, social media has been having its way with painter, creative strategist and the father of Zoleka's last born, Andile Leeroy Cana. He has been labelled all sorts of names by those who claim to be in the know.




His name was listed in Zoleka Mandela's diary as one of the people she wished to be excluded from her funeral, along with Mandla Mandela, Zenani Mandela-Dlamini and King Buyelekhaya Danlindyebo, to name a few. Andile respected the wishes of the mother of his child, Zingce, and stayed away from the funeral which was on 30 September at Bryanston Methodist Church. He exclusively tells ZiMoja that he has always been private about his relationship and wishes to continue to do that in respect of the late mother of his child. "I am a very private person, and I always protect those close to me," he says. "This has been a very challenging time but we face challenges head-on."




As the list indicated, Andile stayed home and grieved the woman he loved on the day of her funeral and held his own prayer at home. "I mourned her in the privacy of my home," he says. The two met on Instagram after a friend suggested that he should do a tribute jacket for her because she has been through a lot fighting cancer and her work as an activist. "I was single at the time and I wasn't looking for a girlfriend, but the spark was too much to ignore," he says. "The same friend who had suggested we work together surprisingly told me about her being gifted in custom-made shoes. So, we were like a match made in heaven," he adds. The author and activist had a passion project where she painted sneakers and sold them. Andile painted jackets, which he sold. He once customised jackets for the late Shona and Connie Ferguson, Somizi Mhlongo, Bonang Matheba and Vusi Nova. When they met, he did not expect they would fall in love. "It was all about work in the beginning. We collaborated and this meant spending a lot of time together." After weeks of working, the two fell in love. "Love is a beautiful thing. We could even finish each other's sentences, but she warned me about the jealousy that was ahead of us, especially from people on social media. I didn't even know much about her or anything about her prior to the friend introducing me," he says. "So, I had to understand her and about her during the relationship. Eventually, she gave me the greatest gift of all, baby Zingce."




Making it to 'the list' broke his heart. "I know things were not perfect between us before her passing, but she had allowed me to see our child and we were trying to mend things," he says, adding, "Sometimes relationships don't work out. I don't believe she hated me, but I still think she was hurt when we separated. I was hoping to mend things, but I guess God had other plans and took her away." Andile says he is learning to cope with her passing, but the criticism has not been easy. "People claim to know me and what happened in my relationship with Zo, but they don't. I respectfully want to maintain my peace and not share too much about my life. People need to respect my space and focus on my work and what I do professionally," he says. "The criticism has been incredibly hurtful, and I have had to stay away from social media to be able to deal with things accordingly and in a way that best suits my child and my family."

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