Honouring Winnie’s legacy
THE pain and reflection of South Africans over the past two weeks have unearthed significant truths and revitalised a revolutionary spirit.
Winnie Madikizela-mandela’s death may well prove to be a turning point in how the nation – and in particular the ANC – sees itself 24 years after we went to the first democratic polls.
Unbelievably to many, Madikizelamandela never saw the righting of wrongs with regard to her reputation – something that has happened rapidly in the past 12 days.
Suddenly people who could have restored her role as the Mother of the Nation have come to light with information that has altered perceptions of her. Their secrets have also confirmed how racially divided South Africa remains.
There have been swings around that information, with even loyal individuals suggesting we should not be entirely forgiving of Mam’ Winnie.
She made errors of judgement, probably as a result of her own profound trauma. Whereas some believe the Mass Democratic Movement and the ANC failed her, others say the MDM had no choice.
The late 1980s were horrific and Mam’ Winnie was as vital to ending the struggle as she was central to some aspects of its violent denouement.
So, yes, there has been pain and elation. But today as South Africa starts to move away from a story that has occupied our minds for two weeks, the ANC will have to incorporate those lessons into a broader consideration of how to move forward.
A lot was made clear. Some of its heroes have come away less heroic; some of its marginalised have re-emerged.
Honouring Mam’ Winnie’s legacy is going to be no easy task. Unlike Nelson Mandela, who was a shining figure of virtue when he died, we know she was more focused on securing a future for the poor than pleasing the minority.
For all her flaws, Madikizela-mandela was consistent on that score. She was also determined to try to hold together a movement falling to pieces.
There can be no doubt that Mam’ Winnie was ANC to the last, even as she embraced the EFF as sons of the soil.
That may help the ANC. That may have given it something back that it desperately needed.
Now it will take all the vigour in its power to harness what it gained through Mam’ Winnie and bring itself back to its core.