South Africa and the world mourn the loss of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who passed away peacefully at the age of 81 on Monday. Tributes continue to pour in for the mother of the nation and one of the fiercest freedom fighters of her generation.
Madikizela-Mandela will be remembered as a somewhat controversial hero, her reputation has taken a couple of knocks over the years through various scandals and self-inflicted controversies.
Ultimately people, whether they loved or loathed her, will remember Madikizela-Mandela for her fearlessness. She once said: “When it happens every day of your life when that pain becomes a way of life, I no longer have the emotion of fear – there is no longer anything I can fear. There is nothing the government has not done to me. There isn’t any pain I haven’t known.”
Briefly.co.za takes a look at 5 moments which cemented Winnie’s reputation for being a fierce and fearless freedom fighter who was never afraid to stand up for the oppressed and marginalised.
1. Freeing a young boy from the clutches of an apartheid-era policeman
Madikizela-Mandela earned her reputation as the mother of the nation when she freed a young boy from apartheid police. She grabbed the boy and ripped him out of the hands of an obviously stunned policeman.
2. When she spoke out against being called by her famous husband’s name because of her gender
Madikizela-Mandela was determined to carve out a path for herself as a freedom fighter. She deeply resented being referred to as the wife of Nelson Mandela instead of being seen as an individual in her own right. Not only was she a freedom fighter, but she also fought for gender equality.
3. Scolding apartheid police for arresting black people for no reason
She famously scolded apartheid-era police who at the time were arresting black citizens for no apparent reason. Even under the draconian laws of the time, such practices were frowned upon and once again Madikizela-Mandela showed she was not afraid to stand up to those in power.
4. Telling black people that they were the rightful owners of the land and their freedom was close
Madikizela-Mandela gave a famous speech to her supporters shortly before South Africa transitioned into an inclusive democracy. She told the crowd that they were the rightful owners of the land for which they had given their lives. Madikizela-Mandela also assured the crowd that their freedom was close to hand.
5. Lashing out at Desmond Tutu many years after the TRC
Madikizela-Mandela never forgave Desmond Tutu for ‘putting her on trial’ at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She said Tutu had no right to judge her. Tutu wanted Madikizela-Mandela to admit to wrongdoings during the liberation struggle, something which she refused to do.
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