The life of Winne Mandela, “Mother of the Nation,” celebrated in South Africa
Thousands are gathering this week across South Africa to pay tribute to Winne Madikizela-Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader and freedom fighter known as the “Mother of the Nation.”
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, died last Monday aged 81, after a period of illness. She will be laid to rest on Saturday.
“For decades, she was the face of the anti-apartheid movement while her husband was imprisoned,” said Keith Jacobs, UNI Africa Regional Secretary. “she was a driving force exposing the gross injustices of the system built on racism and brutal suppression.”
“We lost a great leader and a true fighter for freedom, but while she is no longer with us, her inspiration remains,” said UNI Africa President Ndèye Founé Niang. “In these dark times, her example serves as a light to guiding us to justice.”
Madikizela-Mandela’s resistance against minority white rule lead to her imprisonment from 1969, much of it spent in solitary confinement.
In 1976, she was banished from her Soweto home to a remote rural area. In this period, her house was burned down, with suspicion falling on the South African security forces.
By the start of a long period of township militancy against the white supremacist government of President P W Botha in the mid-1980s, she was back in Soweto and at the heart of the struggle.
“Those in power tried to keep her down, but she always rose back up,” said Moses Lekota from SASBO South Africa. “And with her mind, so will we. We will continue fighting for justice and will not stop until we have victory.”