Let’s not forget Mama Winnie’s struggle for better SA

Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela. File picture
Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela. File picture
Image: Eugene Coetzee

In IsiXhosa we say latshon’ilang’emini (In the day the sun has set).

Others would say uwil’umthi omkhulu (the great tree has fallen).

South Africa and people of the globe are mourning the death of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

In the hills of Bizana, in the village of eMbongweni, young Winnie was born.

Her death has sent shockwaves across the globe.

As American writer Maya Angelou would put it, “her day is done”.

She became the first black social worker in South Africa.

When she joined the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, she dedicated her life for the betterment of all South Africans.

Her undying love for people of South Africa prevailed during the struggle.

She was a militant spokesperson for the cause of the poor and the oppressed.

She was a courageous woman to her last dying days.

She became a pillar in black communities. She carried the burden of oppressed South Africans.

I was fortunate to visit her in her home, Soweto.

When we asked her why she chose to remain in Soweto, while other freedom fighters were living in Sandton and in other suburban areas in South Africa, she had this to say: “When I fought against white supremacy it wasn’t for me and my family – I did it for the betterment of ordinary black South Africans.”

She chose to be among ordinary South African citizens in Soweto.

She did not only devote her life in the struggle for the betterment of South Africans, but she devoted her life for the upliftment of South Africans.

Her resilience during the struggle against white supremacy has prevailed.

She did not only raise her own children, but she also raised young black children who looked up to her.

She became a pillar in black communities.

She carried the burden of oppressed South Africans.

The apartheid agents tried to break her fight, but they failed.

Mama Winnie never succumbed to cowardice.

She stood for what she deemed was right.

She was banned, humiliated and harassed, but her spirit was never broken.
In her own right, she was a revolutionary of note, a leader who stood by her people, an activist who stood for her people.

Isithwalandwe (The highest honour given to an ANC leader)! A political operative to be reckoned with.

It was in 1986 in Brandfort that she called for full sanctions against South Africa for its apartheid policies.

She carried the burden of the apartheid system, while the late Nelson Mandela was incarcerated.

At the helm of it all she carried on the fight against the injustice system of the apartheid regime.

Mama Winnie was a force to be recognised.

When the Rivonia trialists were incarcerated she kept the spirit of Nelson Mandela and others alive.

During those dark days, she kept the hope of many black South Africans alive. Her day is done! Even though the apartheid system, prevented her from practicing as a social worker, many people in Soweto went to her for counselling and support in difficult times.

During the days of black consciousness, she stood by young activists, she trusted them and she stood by them in defiance of the armies of occupation in the black townships.

Black townships were the victims of the apartheid system.

Mama Winnie used to be among the first people to visit the injured, comfort families of the dying and sustain the spirits of the bereaved families.

She was a firm believer in women empowerment.

She had a definite view on the role of women in the struggle.

As a firm believer in women empowerment, she denounced what has been called “patriarchy in the movement, as much as she had a profound disdain for a movement that was from the daily travails of the poor”.

Kamvelihle Ngonyama said, “She was not an appendage of anyone else as she waged a hard battle against a racist and white supremacist system that had no place and no time for a strong black woman.”

Mangutyana lived her own life.

She should not be referred to as Nelson Mandela’s wife. She was her own woman. While he was on Robben Island, she fought side by side with South Africans in ensuring that the future of black South Africans was safeguarded against white supremacy.

Yes, she was married to Nelson Mandela, but she is in her own right Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

She should not be remembered as Nelson Mandela’s wife – but as Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela. Her day is done! I remind the ruling party, the ANC, that Mama Winnie’s dedication for the betterment of South Africans must never be in vain.

She chose to work side by side with black Africans in bringing down the apartheid system.

Let us not forget what she fought for.

It is not a secret that during her last days she was not happy with how the ruling party was treating the people of South Africa.

Fellow South Africans, let us honour her for all she has done for us. Go well, Mangutyana. You have fought a good fight!