Farewell Winnie Huge crowds attend funeral
Tens of thousands of South Africans filled a stadium in Soweto for the funeral of Winnie MadikizelaMandela, a heroine of the antiapartheid struggle but also one of its most controversial figures.
Shouts of “Long live Comrade Winnie” and “the struggle continues” rang out during the emotional service last Saturday. A joyful and tearful crowd listened, sang and danced to prayers, tributes and the anthems. President Cyril Ramaphosa, dignitaries, and political and cultural figures joined wellwishers at the service. In his eulogy, Ramaphosa called MadikizelaMandela proud, strong, brave and articulate. “Winnie’s life was of service to her people,” he said. “She felt compelled to join a struggle that was as noble in its purpose as perilous in its execution. Loudly and without apology, she spoke truth to power.”
Her death has prompted a fierce debate between admirers and detractors. “Some praise Winnie because she was a fearless fighter for justice and a feminist icon; others excoriate her because she was a violent egomaniac,” wrote Palesa Morudu, a publisher and writer.
Born in the poor Eastern Cape, she married Nelson Mandela in 1957, and continued the struggle during his 27 years in prison. However, during the 1980s, she was drawn into a violent world, and most notoriously, found guilty of ordering the kidnapping of the 14-year-old Stompie Seipei, who was murdered by members of her personal bodyguard detail in 1989.