As South Africa, and indeed the world, mourns the Mother of the Nation, True Love joins in to commemorate Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, 81 – a struggle icon who lives behind a legacy that will never be matched.
In an interview that was done exactly 10 years ago for TRUE LOVE’s Mother’s Day issue, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had only the best words to describe her family. “I am one of the proudest mothers. Throughout the years, [Mother’s Day] has been a day I look forward to in our stressful lives. It’s a day when I just let go with my kids. To me, of course, my daughters still remain my kids. And I’m a greatgrandmother, so it’s the richest day in life when I remember how they made me a mother, a grandmother and a greatgrandmother. In that regard, I’m one of the richest mothers because I have all this wealth; the wealth of my children. It’s irreplaceable. God has blessed me because they are all here; all having gone through school and having gone through the most difficult years with me. I love to watch them and what life has turned out to be for them.”
Despite the jovial mood of the interview, there were also moments of pain, frustration and heartache. The tension of joy and sadness is one Mam’Winnie and her family experienced deeply, particularly on Mother’s Day. Regardless, she still managed to enjoy the holiday, even during the darkest of days.
Her two daughters, Zenani Dlamini and Zindzi Mandela, also talked about how, during apartheid, they had to think out of the box when it came to celebrating Mother’s Day. “Those difficult times made us creative,” they said. “I remember I used to make the cards for our mother. I’d have to go to the little corner shop and get some cardboard. Then I’d come home and secretly decorate the card,” Zindzi chimed in. “When you have an occasion to celebrate Mother’s Day and women, it’s a big thing because it’s recognition of who we are. After all, who is it that brings life into this world? We are worth far more than we actually realise,” the pair said.
Mam’Winnie and her family did not only enjoy quality on Mother’s Day; the family made sure that Sunday gatherings where just as significant. “Every Sunday, no matter where you are, but if you are in Johannesburg, you have to be with us as a family. It’s must,” said Zenani.
The family especially enjoyed going to Mommy’s house in Soweto and feast on a huge Sunday lunch. Zindzi then lavishly described her mom’s chicken and dumpling dish, which apparently, was her most famous creation. And they admitted to occasionally go to their mom’s house just so she could cook for them.
“One of the most painful parts of my life was when they had to leave home,” Mam’ Winnie recalled. “I literally got dead-scared. Still today, I have never accepted the fact that they can do anything without me. When there is something wrong with their children, if they are sick or something, I’m usually the first one at the hospital. I can never regard them as married and having their own families. It’s been very difficult for me to let them go. They are still my children. My eldest daughter, even now, gives orders that when she’s not around, I must not be allowed into her house,” Madikizela-Mandela had said at the time.
Raising children and having to be uMama Wesizwe was a very turbulent and isolating for both her and her children. “I’m one of those lucky parents who didn’t lose out to apartheid; who brought up my children to know the correct values in society; to know that we all belong to the human race; colour doesn’t mean a thing. Though we have had brutal times in our lives, my children are not scarred. And I think that’s what motherhood is about ,” M am’ Win nie said about her difficult past.
Nomzamo Winifred Madikize la Mandela is a woman who showed a true sense of motherhood – fiercely protecting her family, and instilling in her kids great value and morals. The TRUE LOVE team salutes you, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela! Lala
Ngokuthula Mama Wesizwe! Your courageous spirit and unrelenting strength will live in our hearts.