Mystery over Meghan's Mandela claims as star insists he NEVER met her

Mystery over Meghan Markle’s Nelson Mandela claims as actor who says he is the ONLY South African in Lion King live action film insists he has NEVER met Duchess after she said cast member compared her wedding to Madiba’s release

  • EXCLUSIVE: Dr John Kani, who voiced Rafiki, claims he was only South African and has not met Duchess 
  • Meghan Markle spoke about royal life in bombshell interview to The Cut – part of New York magazine
  • In it she shared an anecdote where a male South African cast member of The Lion King told her at London premiere: ‘We rejoiced in the streets the same we did when Mandela was freed from prison’
  • Dr Kani told MailOnline: ‘I have never met Meghan Markle. This seems like something of a faux pas by her. I am the only South African member of the cast and I did not attend the premiere in London’
  • Madiba’s grandson Zwelivelile ‘Mandla’ Mandela has told MailOnline that he was ‘surprised’ at her remarks
  • Read more: Publications around the world react to Meghan Markle’s latest bombshell interview

An acclaimed actor and friend of Nelson Mandela today told MailOnline he is ‘baffled’ by the Duchess of Sussex’s suggestion that his country had ‘rejoiced’ when she married Prince Harry – and revealed he has never met her despite claiming to be the only South African member of the cast in Disney’s recent remake of The Lion King.

Dr John Kani believes the Duchess of Sussex has made ‘a faux pas’ after she used a US magazine interview to imply her 2018 royal wedding sparked celebrations in South Africa reminiscent of the release of his friend Madiba, the legendary anti-apartheid leader.

He said Mr Mandela’s walk to freedom after 27 years was a ‘landmark moment’ while her marriage to Prince Harry was ‘no big deal’ in South Africa, adding that the two events ‘cannot be spoken in the same breath’ and ‘you can’t really say where you were when Meghan married Harry’.

Extract from Meghan’s interview in The Cut on Mandela and her wedding day

She [Meghan] recalls a moment from the 2019 London premiere of the live-action version of The Lion King. ‘I just had Archie. It was such a cruel chapter. I was scared to go out.’ A cast member from South Africa pulled her aside. ‘He looked at me, and he’s just like light. He said, “I just need you to know: When you married into this family, we rejoiced in the streets the same we did when Mandela was freed from prison.” ‘ 

Of course, she knows she’s no Mandela, but perhaps even telling me this story is a mode of defense, because if you are a symbol for all that is good and charitable, how can anybody find you objectionable, how can anybody hate you? 

In an interview with The Cut, Meghan suggested she had been told the opposite by a male South African cast member at the London premiere of the Lion King live action film held in 2019. Meghan declared: ‘He looked at me, and he’s just like light. He said, “I just need you to know: When you married into this family, we rejoiced in the streets the same we did when Mandela was freed from prison”.’

But Dr Kani, a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company who voiced the mandrill shaman Rafiki, told MailOnline that he was the only South African in the Disney movie, has never met Meghan and was not at the UK premiere.

He said the only other South African who was involved was Lebo M, a composer who together with Hans Zimmer was responsible for the music for The Lion King. But Lebo M was not in the cast. 

Sitting under a portrait of his friend Mr Mandela at his Johannesburg home, he said: ‘I have never met Meghan Markle. This seems like something of a faux pas by her. I have I have never met the Duchess at all. I am the only South African member of the cast and I did not attend the premiere in London.

‘I went to Hollywood as we opened there and from there I had to go immediately to Paris where I was shooting a film sequel, so I couldn’t hang around. The only South African was me playing Rafiki. But I did not go to the opening in Leicester Square as I didn’t have the time to do that. It just may be a mis-remembering on her side.

‘It is baffling me. I am the only South African in the cast. I play Rafiki, Seth Rogen plays Pumbaa, Donald Glover plays Simba and Beyonce plays Nala.’

The actor insisted that Harry and Meghan’s nuptials were ‘no big deal’ in his country, adding: ‘I cannot even tell you now what month she married or what year’.

Dr Kani said he did not believe that the people of South Africa celebrated Meghan’s marriage to Prince Harry on the scale that greeted the release of anti-apartheid campaigner Nelson Mandela as claimed by her.

He said: ‘In my memory, nobody would have known when she got married, when or what. We had no South African link to the wedding or to her marrying Harry.’

He said: ‘I am truly surprised by this. For me it is a non-event, the whole thing’.

MailOnline has approached the Sussexes and Disney about his claims. The Cut declined to comment.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Dr John Kani has said that he was the only South African star of the Disney movie, has never met Meghan and was not at the UK premiere so was not the source of the royal’s anecdote

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the premiere of The Lion King at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on July 14, 2019

South African president Nelson Mandela and Princess Diana at Mandela’s home in Cape Town, South Africa, on March 17, 1997

‘The world stopped in February 11 1990. The entire country and most of the people born in the seventies didn’t know what Mr Mandela looked like.

‘When the gates of Pollsmoor (Prison) opened, the entire South African nation, the entire African continent and the world were glued.

‘We only realised that he (Mr Mandela) was the one walking next to Winnie (his wife of the time) when he raised his hand and we said “Oh, that’s him” because none of us had seen Mr Mandela since 1964’.

‘That was a world event. Surely Miss Meghan or whatever marrying into royalty cannot in any way be spoken in the same breath or even the same sentence as that moment.

‘It lives in our memories forever to the world. It is a kind of “Where were you when JFK was shot…where were you when Nelson Mandela was released”?

‘You can’t really say where you were when Meghan married Harry.

‘I am confused about this. She is an important person in her own life.

‘But there are various opinions all over the world about them severing their ties with the Royal Family and Harry not being able to serve and do his normal duties and their moving to America and the interviews with Oprah Winfrey and all that. We’ve been following that story with interest really, but that is all.

‘But beyond that I don’t know her, never met her and wasn’t in London and I am the only South African actor in The Lion King.’

Mr Kani, who directed programme for Mr Mandela, said he did not believe Meghan’s self-comparison to Mr Mandela was an insult to South Africa.

‘There were so many people that came to South Africa who just wanted to meet with Nelson Mandela.

‘At one stage we were so bored about it, that we wanted to do a Mandela cardboard cut-out so that they could take a picture with the cardboard cut-out.

‘Mr Mandela was an enigma to South Africa and he was an elder. There was that added cultural dimension in meeting with him.

‘You knew you were meeting an elder, more as a father than as a President. We used to to call him “Dada” which means Daddy.

‘I really wouldn’t want to call it an insult. It must be a faux pas. There is something Meghan is mixing up with.’

Hours earlier Nelson Mandela’s grandson delivered a fresh attack on Meghan Markle and urged her to ‘pull up her sleeves’ and do more for ordinary people after she drew a comparison between her royal wedding day and Madiba’s walk from prison after 27 years of incarceration. 

Zwelivelile ‘Mandla’ Mandela told MailOnline he was ‘surprised’ at her remarks in The Cut magazine when she claimed that three years ago a cast member of the Lion King told her that ‘we rejoiced in the streets the same we did when Mandela was freed from prison’.

He declared that ‘every day there are people who want to be Nelson Mandela, either comparing themselves with him or wanting to emulate him’.

Today he told The Times that his advice to the former actress was: ‘Get out there, pull up your sleeves and better the lives of ordinary people in England and in the United Kingdom’, adding: ‘For the personality she is, she can do a lot of good in the global community by adopting the causes that Madiba championed’.

The furore was sparked by a 6,409-word article called ‘Meghan of Montecito’ published yesterday, where the former Suits star recalled an encounter she had at the 2019 London premiere of a live-action version of the Disney classic. 

She said an actor from South Africa pulled her aside and told her: ‘I just need you to know: When you married into this family, we rejoiced in the streets the same we did when Mandela was freed from prison’. 


Zwelivelile ‘Mandla’ Mandela told MailOnline he was ‘surprised’ at her remarks in The Cut magazine when she claimed that three years ago a cast member of the Lion King told her that ‘we rejoiced in the streets the same we did when Mandela was freed from prison’

Mandla said that people across South Africa had rejoiced at his release in 1990, because his dramatic walk to freedom had signalled a victory over apartheid and colonialism. 

The African National Congress MP said his grandfather’s release was a moment of huge national significance, which should not be compared to the duchess’s 2018 marriage ‘to a white prince’. 

He told MailOnline: ‘It can never be compared to the celebration of someone’s wedding. Madiba’s celebration was based on overcoming 350 years of colonialism with 60 years of a brutal apartheid regime in South Africa. So It cannot be equated to as the same.’

But MailOnline has learned that the story has astonished the Mandela family. ‘Mandla’ Mandela, an MP and Chief of the late South African President’s Mvezo tribe, said he was ‘surprised’ at her remarks.

His grandfather served 27 years in prison before being released and re-uniting opponents and going on to lead his country. 

Zwelivelile said when the people of South Africa expressed their joy at his grandfather’s release and danced in the streets, it was for a far more important and serious reason than her marriage ‘to a white prince’.

The African National Congress MP added: ‘We are still bearing scars of the past. But they (Mr Mandela’s celebrations) were a product of the majority of our people being brought out onto the streets to exercise the right of voting for the first time.

‘He spoke for oppressed minorities, children and women and protracting the most vulnerable people in our society.

‘He always spoke about oppressed nations around the globe and yet people are silent on those issues.

‘But this is what we like to see (from) people when they regard themselves as being a “Nelson Mandela”.

‘Then you could be a champion of the causes that he represented.’

He added: ‘My advice to everyone is to live the life Nelson Mandela lived and support the causes he supported.

‘That is the ultimate litmus test. What is the value of people dancing in the street and chanting President Nelson Mandela’s name when what they stand for is diametrically opposed to what he stood for?

‘Nelson Mandela’s release from jail was the culmination of nearly 350 years of struggle in which generations of our people paid with their lives. It can never be compared to the celebration of someone’s wedding.’

Meghan’s claim has sparked rage and ridicule with critics telling her to ‘get lost’ and accusing her of showing ‘utmost disrespect’. 

Reacting to MailOnline’s exclusive story today, royal expert Angela Levin said: ‘How long is Meghan going to pour out her drivel? It’s enough already. Not a surprise to learn that Mandela’s grandson is cross Meghan compares her wedding to Mandela’s release from prison.’

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex meet Graca Machel, widow of the late Nelson Mandela, on the last day of their tour in Africa


‘Mandla’ Mandela, the great man’s grandson, told MailOnline that when the people of South Africa expressed their joy at his grandfather’s release and danced in the streets, it was for a far more important and serious reason than Meghan’s marriage ‘to a white prince

Nelson Mandela and wife Winnie, walking hand in hand, raise clenched fists upon his release from Victor prison, Cape Town, in this Sunday, February 11, 1990

Jubilant inhabitants of Soweto attend a mass African National Congress (ANC) rally following Mandela’s release


South Africans have said there was no rejoicing in the streets when Meghan and Harry married

Harry and Meghan have built up quite a relationship with the Mandela family in recent years – following in the footsteps of Harry’s parents Prince Charles and Princess Diana. 

Just last month, Harry gave a speech at the UN General Assembly for Nelson Mandela Day in New York City on July 18. 

‘Security source’ confirms Meghan Markle’s revelation that a fire broke out at Archie’s nursery during South Africa visit – and claims British police had said to ‘keep it quiet’ 

Meghan Markle’s claims that a fire broke out in son Archie’s nursery in South Africa have been backed up by a security source.

The insider, who is believed to be close to the Duchess of Sussex and was attached to her security detail during the 10-day tour in 2019, said he personally saw the ‘severely melted’ heater.

He said Meghan received a message that there had been a ‘fire’ and her vehicle ‘broke away’ from the security convoy.

The source told The Citizen that the heater fire at the official residence supplied by the British High Commission was never reported and British police told them to ‘keep it quiet’.

It is the first confirmation that a fire as reported in a podcast by Meghan Markle actually happened after the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office refused to comment. And the source said that when Meghan exited her security vehicle she was ‘scared’ and that she ‘bolted’ into the official residence ‘like every mother would’ if she feared for her baby.

But the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, could not confirm if Archie was in the room or was downstairs as has been claimed.

He said he was part of small team looking after the Duke and Duchess but mainly attached to Meghan helping escort her between the official guest residence and her royal engagements.

The trusted source revealed how the security plan changed as the convoy was returning from an official visit saying: ‘I’m not sure if we came from Nyanga or Monwabisi but there was an event.

‘We were driving in convoy and all of a sudden the convoy with Meghan broke away. We followed after. We weren’t sure what was going on. The Prince was on his way to a thing with the navy’.

 

The Sussexes met Graca Machel, widow of Mandela, on the last day of their tour of Africa in 2019. Harry also met Ms Machel when he visited South Africa in 2015. 

And in 2018, Harry and Meghan met Mandela’s granddaughter Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela during a visit to the Nelson Mandela centenary exhibition at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.

Charles and Diana were also close with Mandela. The late Princess of Wales met him in Cape Town in March 1997, while she was in South Africa visiting her brother Earl Spencer. 

And Charles took Mandela to Brixton in South London when he visited Britain in July 1996.

In addition, Mandela visited Diana’s ancestral home at Althorp in Northamptonshire in November 2002 to see where she was buried.

The Duchess of Sussex, 41, shared the new anecdote in another bombshell interview with a US magazine yesterday – but people have claimed that it was not their experience of what happened on May 19, 2018.

After her claim the hashtag #VoetsekMeghan began trending in South Africa. Voetsek is an Afrikaans word meaning ‘go away’ or ‘get lost’ and is a common slur used by millions in the country. 

An angry Twitter user said: ‘No one was rejoicing in the streets of South Africa when she got married. For her to imply that it was the same as when President Mandela was released is the utmost disrespect’.

Another South African claimed: ‘From South Africa, I can promise you 1 thing, nobody but nobody celebrated in the street as with when Mandela was released over a foreign state wedding, yes we watched at home happy for the couple, that was that’.

One critic said: ‘Comparing your marriage to Nelson Mandela being released? What a pompous & arrogant thing to say’. Another said: ‘Her arrogant and yet delusional comparison of herself to Mandela is yet another insult to South Africa’.

Meghan managed to get up South African’s noses after her first Archetypes Spotify podcast where she described the mansion where she stayed on a royal tour with Harry and Archie as a ‘housing unit’. 

One South African commentator, Howard Feldman, wrote yesterday: ‘Sorry Meghan only South Africans are allowed to speak ill about the country. Meghan should have stayed out of it’.

In July Prince Harry used his keynote speech at the UN General Assembly for Nelson Mandela Day, in New York City, to again wade into US politics as he blasted the ‘rolling back of constitutional rights’.

The Duke of Sussex launched a thinly-veiled attack on the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade ruling last month that handed abortion rights back to individual states.

The 37-year-old claimed it was part of a ‘global assault on democracy and freedom’ as he also cited Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine among problems facing the world.

South Africans have already hit out at Meghan Markle after she told of an apparent fire that broke out in her son Archie’s room while she was on a tour of the country.

Archie, then four months old, was not in the room in Cape Town when a heater started to smoke – but the incident left the Duchess of Sussex ‘shaken’ and ‘in tears’, she told tennis star Serena Williams in her new podcast.

Others are understood to recall the incident which took place on September 23, 2019 – and while they do not remember there actually being a fire, the heater was certainly smoking and was unplugged and dealt with.

Despite the upset, Meghan said in the Spotify podcast that she was obliged to continue with official engagements, accusing those running the tour of concentrating on ‘how it looks, instead of how it feels’.

However, South Africans have not taken too kindly to her claims on social media, to the point where ‘#VoetsekMeghan’ – an offensive term meaning ‘go away’ – was trending on Twitter.

Harry and Meghan at the United Nations celebration of Nelson Mandela International Day in New York City on July 18, 2022

The Duchess of Sussex meets Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela during her visit to the Nelson Mandela centenary exhibition at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in London on July 17, 2018

Prince Harry visits the Nelson Mandela Foundation and meets Graca Machel in South Africa on December 3, 2015

South African president Nelson Mandela (centre), Earl Spencer (right) and an aide walk across a pontoon from the island where Diana, Princess of Wales, is buried at her ancestral home at Althorp in Northamptonshire, on November 1, 2002

Prince Charles and Nelson Mandela with the Spice Girls at Mandela’s residence in South Africa on November 1, 1997

One wrote: ‘South Africa… You’re amazing – the #VoetsekMeghan tag is brilliant. She’s single handedly offending the world country by country! Shame really when most of her fanbase is in SA…oopsie!’

Another said: ‘I don’t care about the fire incident but the statement: coming to South Africa was the bravest thing she has done. Speaks volumes. As if she was coming to some apocalypse state or something. She should elaborate on what was brave about it, is it because is in Africa? #VoetsekMeghan’

A third added: ‘So after the supposed fire , Meghan could have taken Archie to their engagements in South Africa. Catherine did it in Australia and New Zealand without issue. Why could she not? You know why? Because then it would no longer be just about her! #VoetsekMeghan’.

Sources have defended the Duchess over the incident, saying it would have understandably caused concern to any parent. The Sussexes were subsequently moved to different accommodation as the tour continued.

This is how the South African newspaper Sunday Times covered Harry and Meghan’s wedding in its edition on May 20, 2018

This is how the South African newspaper Cape Times covered Harry and Meghan’s wedding in its edition on May 21, 2018

This is how the South African newspaper The Citizen covered Harry and Meghan’s wedding in its edition on May 21, 2018

Meghan, holding son Archie alongside husband Harry at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa in 2019

There would undoubtedly have been an expectation for Harry and Meghan to go on with their engagements after months of planning on the ground – but as senior royals, the couple would have had the final say on continuing.

And one source told the Daily Telegraph that any announcement about Archie being at risk of fire – or having to cancel an event where they spoke to people about Apartheid – would have overshadowed the couple’s work.

Later that same day following the incident, the couple visited Cape Town’s historic District Six neighbourhood, met residents in its Homecoming Centre and heard from people who were forcibly removed to a township during the Apartheid era, with the Sussexes also carrying out an impromptu walkabout.

District Six is a former inner-city residential area in Cape Town where freed slaves, artisans, immigrants, merchants and the Cape Malay community lived – but in 1966 the government declared it a ‘whites-only area’, and more than 60,000 residents were forcibly removed and relocated to the Cape Flats township about 15 miles away.

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