There is silence in the forest.
A baobab tree has fallen.
Winnie Madikizela Mandela is no more...
Birds are singing and plants are bearing new leaves.
It was a tree that bore fruit and gave life.
As such, she lives on.
Rest well, Mother.
Any acceptance of humiliation,
Indignity or insult is acceptance of inferiority.
There is no longer anything I can fear...
There isn't any pain I haven't known.
Winnie Madikizella-Mandela was born on September 26, 1936, in South Africa's Transkei region. She died on Monday, April 2, 2018 in a Johannesburg hospital at the age of 81 after a protracted illness. Her parents, Columbus and Gertrude were school teachers who taught her the value of education early in life. As a young woman, she graduated from University and became a social worker, advocating for patients and families at Baragwanath hospital.
A chance meeting at a Soweto bus stop in 1957 changed the course of her life. She caught the attention of a young lawyer and activist, Nelson Mandela. The couple fell in love and married the following year. It was a meeting of minds and politics. But home life was pierced and distorted by the anti-apartheid struggle. Nelson Mandela was sent to prison in 1963. See for example www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-03/winnie-madikizela-mandelas-turbulent-and...
In his absence, Mrs. Mandela was not only a single parent, but a vocal activist. She was repeatedly detained, arrested and exiled. She spent 18 months in solitary confinement for her role in the African National Congress (ANC). Letters to her husband in prison on Robben Island were heavily censored. Winnie did not spend her time quietly, waiting for her husband's release. She became a vocal, steady member of the ANC.
In 1986, she delivered a controversial speech supporting violence against the ANC's enemies, including the use of 'necklacing' - burning a victim to death with a tyre full of fuel around their neck. Her security team, known as Mandela United Football club became infamous for dispensing 'township justice'. Mrs. Mandela was convicted of involvement in the kidnapping of a 14 year old boy, who was found dead in 1989. The South Africa Truth & Reconciliation Commission would later find her politically and morally accountable for gross violations of human rights.
In 1990, Mandela was released after 27 years in prison. He walked free, holding hands with Winnie. Mandela, the former prisoner, became President in 1994. Winnie was appointed a Minister in the ANC government, but was removed less than a year later amid allegations of corruption. All the while, the Mandelas' marriage was falling apart. The couple divorced in 1996. In 2003, Winnie was convicted of multiple counts of fraud and theft. All but one of the convictions was overturned on appeal the following year. Winnie remained a senior member of the ANC.
Winnie is remembered somewhere between the international stage and the township streets. In the latter, she was seen as a mother who paid un-payable bills and attended citizens' naming ceremonies, weddings and burials. Winnie is somewhere between steadfast wife and fiercely independent activist. Somewhere between 'wronged' and 'wrongful'. Love or loathe her, she was indeed an icon. Her demise marks the end of an unforgettable era in the South African struggle and the women's movement worldwide...
*Winnie rose above her mistakes https://www.news24.com/southafrica/news/winnie-rose...
*Nomzamo from Bizana: Remembering Winnie Madikizela as a young woman theconversation.com/nomzamo-from-bizana-remembering-winnie-madikizela-as-a
*Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: Revolutionary who kept the spirit of resistance alive theconversation.com/winnie-madikizela-mandela-revolutionary-who-kept-the-spirit-of-resistance-alive-94300
*South Africa: Graca Machel writes last letter to 'big sister', Winnie Madikizela-Mandela http://allafrica.com/stories/201804040106.html
*The most touching tributes to Winnie Mandela allafrica.com/view/group/main/id/00060004.html