State funeral for Winnie Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

JOHANNESBURG. – Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the hero of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, affectionately referred to as “the mother of the nation”, will be honoured with a state funeral, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said. Madikizela-Mandela, who died on Monday aged 81, was one of the few remaining representatives of the generation of revolutionaries who led the fight against apartheid.

According to a family spokesperson, she will be laid to rest on April 14 in Gauteng Province.
On Monday night, crowds of mourners gathered outside Madikizela-Mandela’s home in the Soweto township, a centre of anti-apartheid resistance that remained her base decades after the end of white minority rule.

Neighbours, supporters and passers-by assembled to sing and chant at the gates of her modest two-storey red-brick home in the Orlando neighbourhood shortly after her death was announced.
Ramaphosa arrived to pay his respects on Monday evening.

“The nation was ill-prepared for her departure and people are grieving very deeply. The death is a great loss on that she has been one of the strongest women in our struggle, who suffered immensely . . . She remained courageous on behalf of the people,” Ramaphosa, who took power in February, said.

Tributes continued to pour in yesterday and many have paid tribute to Madikizela-Mandela’s long fight for women’s rights.
Baleka Mbete and Thandi Modise, parliament’s presiding officers and senior officials in the ruling African National Congress (ANC), issued a statement describing Madikizela-Mandela as “a torch-bearer to gender mainstreaming, and an inspiration to millions of downtrodden women across the length and breadth of the country, across the continent and the world”.

“She defied the repressive laws and associated patriarchy, embodied a brave character of an unflinching woman in the wake of all odds against her throughout her life,” their statement read.

The ANC Women’s League, which Madikizela-Mandela once led, said: “She will forever remain an encouraging figure in the fight against patriarchy and male chauvinism in and outside politics.”

Born in the poor Eastern Cape province, Madikizela-Mandela’s childhood was “a blistering inferno of racial hatred”, in the words of her British biographer Emma Gilbey, and she became further politicised at an early age in her job as a hospital social worker.

Attractive, articulate, clever and committed, the 23-year-old Winnie caught the eye of Mandela, many years her senior, at a Soweto bus stop in 1957. They were married a year later. But by 1960, Mandela had gone underground. He was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to life imprisonment for treason.

During her husband’s 27-year incarceration, Madikizela-Mandela campaigned tirelessly for his release and for the rights of black South Africans, establishing a massive personal following.

Tortured and subjected to repeated house arrests, she was kept under surveillance and, in 1977, banished to a remote town in another province.

As the violence of the apartheid authorities reached new intensity, Madikizela-Mandela was drawn into a world of internecine betrayal, reprisals and atrocity.

On February 11, 1990, she gave the clenched-fist salute of black power as she walked hand-in-hand with Mandela out of Cape Town’s Victor Verster prison.

For husband and wife, it was a crowning moment that led four years later to the end of centuries of white domination when Mandela became South Africa’s first black president.

She and Mandela separated in 1992 and her reputation slipped further when he sacked her from his cabinet in 1995 after allegations of corruption. The couple divorced a year later. Still popular, in 2008 she took up the cause of immigrants who had come under attack in widespread riots. A year later, she won a parliamentary seat. More recently, she spoke out against official corruption.

In her last interview, given last month and rebroadcast on Monday afternoon by state broadcasters, Madikizela-Mandela spoke of how she had always put the collective good of the ANC before her individual wellbeing.

“I would be extremely naive if I suggested to you that South Africa today is what we dreamed of when we gave up our lives … We came from a very brutal period of our history, a country that was segregated, [and] to transition from that era to where we are today has been a really painful journey, ” Madikizela-Mandela said. – The Guardian/HR.

You Might Also Like