Flawed di­a­mond still shines brightly

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO OPINION -

THE news of Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela’s pass­ing this week brought the coun­try to a stand­still, with ev­ery media house shar­ing the good and the bad of the fear­less fighter she was.

Few peo­ple would have proph­e­sied that the woman from ru­ral Bizana in the Eastern Cape who met 40-year-old lawyer, Madiba, when she was only 23 years of age was go­ing to at­tract world­wide media at­ten­tion for the rest of her life.. and be­yond.Un­like other prom­i­nent po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, who pre­fer re­lo­cat­ing to the sub­urbs, Win­nie re­mained with the masses and had been a res­i­dent of Or­lando West in Soweto for the bet­ter part of her life.

She was in touch with the peo­ple on the ground and was always at hand to as­sist them.

De­spite be­ing mar­ried to the world’s icon, Nel­son Man­dela, the ‘Mother of the Na­tion’ dis­tin­guished her­self as a po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist in her own right, and was her own per­son - never afraid to speak her mind.

Her 38-year mar­riage to Madiba, who spent 27 years in prison, was the biggest test of her life, plac­ing enor­mous emo­tional and prac­ti­cal bur­dens on her and ex­pos­ing her hu­man frail­ties.

She was not with­out her short­com­ings. Her re­la­tion­ship with her former lawyer Dali Mpofu and her in­volve­ment in the death of ANC Youth League ac­tivist Stom­pie Seipei placed her in the head­lines for all the wrong rea­sons.

But her pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on many was leg­endary and she is be­ing touted as the mother to many po­lit­i­cal youth lead­ers, such as Julius Malema.

When Malema launched the EFF, he de­scribed Mama Win­nie as the life­time Com­man­der in Chief of the EFF.

Lit­tle did we know that her 81st birth­day bash held last year would be her last show.

Spe­cial about that party was the guest list which in­cluded po­lit­i­cal friends and foes of the likes of Malema, Cyril Ramaphosa, Ad­vo­cate Dali Mpofu and Malusi Gi­gaba, to name but a few.

The birth­day cel­e­bra­tion was a ges­ture of unity, and it was there that Mama Win­nie com­mit­ted her­self to ac­com­pa­ny­ing Ramaphosa to Marikana to meet with the wid­ows of the killed min­ers. She was un­doubt­edly a peace bro­ker. Even when there was ten­sion dur­ing the ANC lead­er­ship race, she would from time to time seek for a so­lu­tion that would please both fac­tions.

In the run up to the Polok­wane Con­fer­ence, she at­tempted to bring to­gether Mbeki and Zuma, who were in­volved in a bit­ter bat­tle for the ANC’s 2007 pres­i­dency.

She was once again at the fore­front of bring­ing unity be­tween the Zuma and Ramaphosa fac­tions at the Nas­rec Con­fer­ence.

She had made many friends and en­e­mies in the revo­lu­tion, and one of her friends hap­pened to be the IFP leader, Inkosi Man­go­suthu Buthelezi, who was a fre­quent vis­i­tor to her home in Soweto.

Buthelezi de­scribed Win­nie as not only a beau­ti­ful woman, but also a great cook.

Win­nie was a fighter in the true sense of the word.

Even after Madiba’s pass­ing she launched a bid to have Madiba’s Qunu house as hers. She fought that bat­tle un­til the end.

Even when it was clear that her health chal­lenges were tak­ing a toll on her, she re­fused to sit on a wheel­chair, pre­fer­ring to use a walk­ing stick.

That was the char­ac­ter of Mama Win­nie Man­dela, the coun­try’s most in­flu­en­tial anti-apartheid ac­tivist in­clud­ing Madiba.

Rest In Peace, Mama We­sizwe. Ulufezile ugqatso lwakho.

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