It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the mother of the Nation. My eyes still remember that pivotal day, of February 11, 1990, when Winnie Madikizela-Mandela walked hand-in-hand with her husband Nelson Mandela as he was coming out of jail after 27 years, and raised her fist to the entire world, to a reception of hundreds of supporters and thousands around the globe. We had all prayed for that day, and that day came because of Winnie’s selfless battle against apartheid.
The incredibly dignified and beautiful Winnie Mandela fought like no other, and I can truly say today that without her constant fight to keep her husband’s name and fight alive during those 27 years he spent in jail, nobody would have remembered Nelson Mandela, and the history of South Africa and the 1994 rainbow democracy would have been different. For it is because of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela that we all know Nelson Mandela to the extent that we know him today. While he was in jail 27 years, furthering and refining his law studies and other things, she was out there tirelessly working for the freedom of her people, keeping his name alive, and fighting the apartheid system. Winnie fought, and endured so many hardships: brutalized by the police, constantly forced to lose her job by the apartheid system, single-handedly raising her 2 children, repeatedly thrown in jail for her values, harassed, beaten, and humiliated by the system, her children constantly thrown out of school or denied admission because of who she was, exiled/banished to a very racist white-only community for years, and so much more. At one point she was thrown in jail for 17 months, and spent most of that time in solitary confinement, where she had no formal contact with another human being at all aside from her interrogators, among which were notorious torturers.
Part of what kept Winnie motivated during her banishment (exile), and even throughout her life, was her exceptional ability not to become demoralized and her inexhaustible tenacity to keep busy. While she was living out her banishment she established a local gardening collective; a soup kitchen; a mobile health unit; a day care center; an organisation for orphans and juvenile delinquents and a sewing club.
Sadly, while she waited 27 years for Nelson Mandela, it took him 4 years after coming out of prison to get rid of her! Really? Seriously? I guess women are supposed to keep the candle up and be loyal, while men are not held to the same standards. Any man who would have gone through 27+ years of what the apartheid system did to Winnie would have cracked, but not Winnie, she fought the fight, she fought for her people, and in 2009, the people re-elected her to the parliament in great fanfare. In January 2018, the University Council and University Senate of Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, approved the award of an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree to Winnie Nomzano Madikizela-Mandela, in recognition of her fight against apartheid in South Africa. Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF, said last June: “She [Winnie Madikizela-Mandela] should have been the first female president (of the country)‚ a real president who was not going to be a front for male leadership.”
Please read SA History who celebrated the life of OUR HEROINE the gorgeous and strong Winnnie Madikizela-Mandela, the mother of the nation (do not forget to read what I said about African Women and Revolution); also read her book, Part of My Soul Went with Him. We, Africans, have to write our own history, and celebrate our heroes. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was a hero like none other. Without Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the world would not have known Nelson Mandela! If anybody has earned their place in history and in the hearts of her people, it is definitely Winnie Madikizela-Mandela! She was a woman of principle, and of great love for her people!