The Mandela family name is one that carries a heavy weight of responsibility because of the legendary Nelson Mandela. After his death in 2013, the Mandela family sought to create ways to keep the legacy of the name alive. No one would have ever expected the Mandela family name to be attached to wine, but Mandela’s daughters, Makaziwe and his granddaughter, Tukwini created House Of Mandela Wines. This company is committed to making positive and passionate contributions to society. They have a great respect for the environment and all of the wines are produced in the world’s most beautiful winelands in an environmentally sensitive and ethically responsible manner.
What? A socially conscious wine? Yes! And what’s even more awesome is that a portion of their proceeds are donated to the House of Mandela Family Foundation (HoMFF) as well as the Africa Rising Foundation. The HoMFF will seek to improve the lives of Africa’s poverty stricken communities through, working with development organizations and charities in the education, health, agriculture and alternative energy fields as well as sponsor a select number of students to study wine making and viticulture, thereby opening the industry to other ethnic groups. Amazing!
This is not just wine. This is about the story of the House of Mandela and the rainbow nation of South Africa. The Mandela family’s passion lies in creating and contributing to projects with a soul. Each and every bottle holds a distinct piece of Africa, its history and people.
I got the chance to sit down with Tukwini at Madiba in Harlem (which is named for Nelson Mandela). We shared an authentic South African meal, complete with Biltong Droerwors with mixed nuts and fried fruits, beet salad with red wine vinegar, Mozambique prawns peri peri with yellow rice and raises, Pap and vleis and Boerewors (white cornmeal with lamb chops and farm sausage), oxtail, samp and Malva pudding. We paired these delicious bites with House of Mandela Wines like the Deep River Chenin/Chardonnay, Thembu Sauvignon Blanc, Royal Reserve Shiraz and the Deep River Cabernet Merlot. Tukwini gifted us with a few minutes to chat about the wine and we asked her about the weight of her family name, what she wants to bring to the wine industry and what this means for South Africa. Check out our chat below.
DY: What is the responsibility of carrying this name and what does it mean for you?
TM: It’s a great responsibility. I think for me and my family, we’re unbound to carrying my grandfather’s legacy forward. But it’s more than just my grandfather’s legacy because people believe that Nelson Mandela is Mandela himself. It’s actually not. My grandfather is a prodigy of Mandela. We come from a line of kings and queens and our ancestors, King Ngubengcuka Vusani aNdaba, who had five sons and of those five sons, one of them was named Mandela.
We carry the name of that ancestor and we know the values of that house. The values that he exposed aren’t things that he just learned from nowhere. He learned those things from when he was growing up. So for us, it’s all about carrying the family’s name forward; the legacy, lineage and making sure that name survives into eternity. I’m will teach my children the same things that my grandfather taught me and I’m hoping that my children will teach those values to their children.
DY: As a student of wine, what is it that you want to bring to the wine industry?
TM: Whether my family likes it or not, we’re presents of Africa you know, so I think we want to uplift the image of South Africa wines to number one. We want people to obviously consume more South African wines and I think in South Africa, we want to promote a wine culture that’s for everyone. Everyone should be able to enjoy a great glass of wine. It’s a great lifestyle drink and even though South Africa creates copious amounts of wine, we’re not necessarily a wine drinking country, we’re more of a brown spirits type of country.
We want people to talk about a lot of social issues whether its an ancestor that made a difference in people’s lives or how they feel they can contribute to the betterment of society, how they can create an impact by doing small things because ultimately it’s not about doing the big things. It could be giving someone a compliment that could make their day for example. It could be somebody who’s begging on the side of the street, which could actually help them get a meal for that day and feed someone for that day. For us all around, we just want to contribute all around to a positive outlook towards life in general.
DY: Can you talk a little bit about having your name attached to a wine?
TM: Lineage was very important and that’s something that he taught us as well. So its all about, you know my grandfather believed he was put on this Earth to continue his family’s legacy and he taught us the same thing. So my cousins, my aunts, my uncles, we believe the same thing. We were put on this Earth to continue my family’s legacy. That’s what we do everyday.
DY: What are you hoping that this wine does to influence or inspire?
TM: I am hoping that young Black women will enter the wine industry and will have their own businesses. There aren’t many Black female owned wineries in South Africa. I can actually count them on my hand because I know most of them. They [Black women] shouldn’t be farm workers only. Whether you want to own a wine marketing business (which we do) or whether you want to own a wine production house, that’s fine too. We want a more diverse wine industry because with diversity comes a lot of new ideas. It’s a proven fact. So it would be great for us to encourage that. You have to be incredibly brave. You have to be very passionate about what you do because the wine industry is very capital-intensive industry in general. You have to have tenacity I think. Those things are important and not giving up when things get really, really difficult.