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Nelson Mandela's Wife, Graca Machel, Says He Was 'Just Her Husband' (VIDEO)

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To the rest of the world, civil rights activist Nelson Mandela -- who died on Thursday at age 95 -- was an icon. But to wife Graca Machel, he was just her husband.

In a 2002 BBC profile that has recirculated since Mandela's death, Machel (the former South African president's third wife) opens up about the man Mandela was behind closed doors.

"He's not a saint," she said. "He's an icon for the world. But for us at home, really, he's a head of a family. He's a father, he's a grandfather, he's a great-grandfather. I don't think, for instance, that my grandchildren have any notion of having a grandfather who's an icon. They have him as a grandfather. That's it. I know, at the end of the day when we go back home, he is just going to be my husband."

In the interview, Machel says that it was their mutual loneliness and pain that initially brought the couple together. Machel -- who was the former First Lady of Mozambique -- was widowed when her husband, Samora Machel, died in a plane crash in 1986. Mandela and his second wife, Winnie Madikizela, divorced in 1996.

"This is a person who had sort of a similar history [to me]," she said. "Because in those days, he was separated from Winnie. He was alone. So that sense of being hurt, being lonely and trying to find answers for a very deep sense of pain and loss -- I think that's what sparked our connection."

The couple married on Mandela's 80th birthday in July 1998. He is also survived by three of his daughters -- Pumla Makaziwe, Zenani and Zindziswa Mandela -- as well as multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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