Graca breaks her silence: "It's pain. It's emptiness"
Madiba's wife, Grace Machel, has maintained her silence since her husband passed away on 5 December last year.
But now, finally, she's spoken out for the first time in an exclusive interview with the Guardian.
In the interview, Graca mentions how she used to censor TV and newspapers to 'protect' Nelson Mandela from the bad news that could have led to disillusionment with the ANC.
"I didn't want him to be aware of all the things which were happening because, knowing him, he would be really aggrieved, he would suffer, but he wouldn't be able to do much," she said.
In the final months leading up to Madiba's death, Jacob Zuma and other high-ranking ANC members were criticised for taking pictures with a visibly ill and uneasy tata. Graca agrees that it was not acceptable. "The moment was not right, and because those who have seen the pictures, it was clear he was not communicating with them. So it was not right to expose him to that kind of a situation."
She also says that his death has had a massive impact on her. "That huge presence, filling every detail of my life, every detail of my life full of him. And now, it's pain, it's emptiness and it's actually searching now – at a certain point you even search yourself, who I am now after this experience. It's like something has changed inside you as well. Of course, you don't go through this kind of experience and you remain exactly the same."
While she refused to answer to recent claims that she was shut out at his funeral, she says she is determined to fulfil his 'last wish' and build a children's hospital.