Win­nie Madik­ize­la­Man­dela

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.

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