Nelson Mandela’s grandson’s conversion to Islam causes national “disquiet”

Mandla Mandela

Traditional tribal leaders in South Africa appear to be uneasy about Mandla Mandela’s conversion to Islam.

The Congress of Traditional Leaders in South Africa (Contralesa) told the BBC that being Muslim could affect his ability to uphold Xhosa traditions.

Mandla Mandela, who converted to Islam in 2015, got married in a Cape Town mosque last week.

He inherited his position as chief of Mvezo in the AbaThembu clan from his grandfather, Nelson Mandela.

It has been claimed that he converted to Islam in order to marry Rabia Clarke, a Muslim.

This is the fourth marriage of Mr Mandela, 42.

Contralesa’s spokesperson Chief Mwelo Nonkonyane said Mr Mandela’s new religious affiliation could present a conflict for his subjects.

“There is nothing wrong with a traditional leader following any faith he chooses but we are concerned about whether he will be able to continue performing his responsibilities as a chief,” he said.

Traditional chiefs sometimes lead thanksgiving rituals for ancestors, which would include presenting slaughtered animals to them in prayer.

Such practices are not considered to be in line with orthodox normative Islam.

But Mr Mandela seems content with his decision.

“Although Rabia and I were raised in different cultural and religious traditions, our coming together reflects what we have in common: We are South Africans,” he is quoted as saying at the ceremony.

Mr Mandela is also an MP with the governing African National Congress.

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