‘It was like she knew that God will call her’

CityPress - - News - MSINDISI FENGU msindisi.fengu@city­press.co.za

A few days be­fore she died, Win­nie Madik­ize­laMan­dela in­vited the women of her church to her house.

In what she con­sid­ers to be a pre­mo­ni­tion, Vivi Hlatshwayo (65) said Madik­izela-Man­dela had, on Good Fri­day at the Wes­ley Methodist Church in Mead­ow­lands, asked the women of uManyano, the women’s prayer and ser­vice union, to pay her a visit this week.

“It was like she knew that God will call her. She shook hands, hugged and kissed al­most ev­ery­one un­til her body­guards asked her to stop be­cause she was tired,” she said.

“I think God was whis­per­ing in her ear that she would de­part. Now our visit will be to give her a send-off and hang her blouse on the wall, to sym­bol­ise that she was God’s sol­dier. That blouse will be dis­played among other dec­o­ra­tions she has earned for ac­tivism.”

Hlatshwayo belted out Madik­izela-Man­dela’s favourite hymn, Nzulu Yem­fih­lakalo, and said she al­ways asked for it to be sung.

“She did not con­sider her­self dif­fer­ent from other con­gre­gants, like oth­ers do. She liked to say she’s the ‘mother’ to all of us, not only of the na­tion. We didn’t lack any­thing and we knew that we could de­pend on her when we wanted help with food do­na­tions and other ne­ces­si­ties,” she said.

“We were proud to have her in our church and showed off to other churches.”

Madik­izela-Man­dela con­trib­uted to­wards the burial of Hlatshwayo’s rel­a­tive in 2007.

“I told her that I had a prob­lem and I was not able to bury my rel­a­tive. With­out ques­tion­ing me, she said she would help. She pro­vided a cof­fin and food. I was over­joyed,” she said.

Hlatshwayo said Mama Win­nie’s gen­eros­ity earned her the name “Bosso” among con­gre­gants.

“She did not hold back from giv­ing. She sacri­ficed her­self for all of us – the na­tion and the church. She put oth­ers ahead of her­self.”

Madik­izela-Man­dela did not im­pose her­self or her pol­i­tics on con­gre­gants, said Hlatshwayo, and par­tic­i­pated as an or­di­nary mem­ber.

“Peo­ple who say bad things about her are do­ing so be­cause of ha­tred. We know her dif­fer­ently. She was like a car­pet. A down-toearth per­son,” Hlatshwayo said.

Mama Win­nie’s class leader in uManyano, Florence Me­la­mane, said she was the last per­son to talk to her be­fore she left church on Fri­day. She said the icon was “not her­self”.

“She was not the Win­nie I know. When she left church she looked tired. You could see she was sick. Other ladies in the church had to phys­i­cally sup­port her,” she said.

Madik­izela-Man­dela was al­ways flanked in the pews by her body­guards in church.

“She al­ways had a smile and looked happy. She would jump like we usu­ally do when we are singing but last week­end she did not. Be­fore she left, she smiled as usual. She gave me a kiss and a hug and told me that she re­mem­bers her class num­ber 27 and left,” Me­la­mane said.


Vivi Hlatshwayo singing Win­nie’s favourite hymn, Nzulu Yem­fih­lakalo, at her home in Mead­ow­lands, Soweto

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