AU applauds Winnie for her Struggle role
THE AFRICAN Union Commission has honoured anti-apartheid Struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at a banquet in Addis Ababa that was hosted for gender and equality activists.
Although Madikizela-Mandela did not attend the event on Tuesday, the mention of her name drew loud cheers and hand-clapping, and some guests who were apparently expecting to see her take the podium to accept her accolade promptly stood up.
ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini, who is also the social development minister, attended the event with other senior party members.
She said Madikizela-Mandela was a very brave woman who had kept the “fire blazing” and did so much to keep the name of the ANC relevant when it was banned.
Many of its leaders, including her then husband, Nelson Mandela, had been arrested.
“Struggle was not a fashion, it was a commitment,” Dlamini said.
She added that the AU Commission had made South Africans proud by honouring “the mother of the nation”.
Dlamini said MadikizelaMandela, whose award was accepted by one of her granddaughters, was an inspiration to all women in the world who were fighting for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
She said the award was a fitting 80th birthday present for Madikizela-Mandela.
Most of the guests were women, including outgoing AU chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and other women from the continent.
Madikizela-Mandela’s granddaughter thanked those in attendance for acknowledging her grandmother’s selfless sacrifices and saluting her courage during the Struggle, as well as for celebrating her achievements, even though many in the past tried to tarnish her name.
Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday song was played for Madikizela-Mandela in her absence, bringing most of the guests to their feet.
Dlamini Zuma led the dancing and was joined by other women.
There was also a big birthday cake for Madikizela-Mandela that was later cut and shared among those in attendance.