South Africans and the international community have been pouring the Madikizela and the Mandela family with condolences and messages of support since her passing on Monday 02 April 2018. The sad news of Mama Winnie’s death shocked a lot of people despite the fact that she has been in and out of hospitals for a while. Mama Winnie will surely be missed as one of the last remaining struggle veteran who was seen as unifier, a straight talker and the mother of the South African nation. Her strength and determination for the liberation of women will be at the front of her legacy, she set an example of the power of women and how their contribution to society can shake theformation of life as we know it.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has, for years, remained the symbol of the true strength of women in South Africa leading the revolution to a free and democratic South Africa. She graduated from Jan Hofmeyer School of Social Work in 1955 and became the first black medical social worker in South Africa. Most of her adult life was confronted by brutal harassment by the apartheid regime and protracted separation from her loved ones.
Winnie Mandela was born on the 26th of September 1936 in what was previously
known as Bizana, Transkei. Mama Winnie sacrificed her life, children and marriage for the liberation of black people. In one of her interviews done in the 1980s she miserably described how she had never been to any of her children’s schools as she was burned from being near any educational institutions by the apartheid government. She was defiant even when she was the number one target because of her marriage to Nelson Mandela. Mme Winnie was never broken by the harassment and torture of the previous government instead it seemed to have set alight the spirit of defiance that led to the realisation of freedom.
After enduring nearly two decades of victimisation by the apartheid regime, Mme Winnie Mandela intensified her reactions to the government. She became known as an advocate for necklacing. In her speech in 1986 she stated that “with our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country”, these were words of awoman who had had enough of the brutal attack on her family and the entire black African nation. Mme Winnie influenced many other leaders to take the fight for freedom serious and destroy the enemy of the people. Winnie Mandela was a key leader in the
resistance against apartheid and continues to have influence in a non-formal manner in the politics of the ANC.
Our political and societal formations should be inspired by the life she led and encourage and push the women centered agenda. It should not only end with representation in parliament and in the business community, a woman
centered agenda should start with basic things such as showing decisiveness when it comes to people such as Mduduzi Manana – a convicted women abuser.
In memory of Mama Winnie we should all always be defiant against any injustice, corruption, rape, poverty and many other social evils we are witnessing today in this country. Let us
remember Mama Winnie for her defiance during the struggle and her strength as the mother of the nation.