HAMBA KAHLE ‘MAMA’ WINNIE
REMEMBERING THE “Mother of the Nation” BORN: September 26, 1936 DIED: April 2, 2018
“Fearless in the face of torture, imprisonment, banishment and betrayal, she stood firm in her conviction that apartheid could be brought down.
In 1952 people across the country were participating in the Defiance Campaign – a series of coordinated strikes, mass action campaigns, boycotts, and civil disobedience. Madikizela desperately wanted to join the protests, but also keenly felt the sacrifices her family had borne to give her the opportunity to educate herself. She reluctantly sat the protest out and completed her studies.
In 1953 she moved to Johannesburg to study social work. She quickly realised that the city of gold was built on the severe exploitation and oppression of black South Africans. Through her work as a young social worker she was exposed to inhumane conditions faced by the black working class: uninhabitable homes, poor sanitation, a lack of security and high infant mortality rates. Her commitment to their struggles saw her turn down a prestigious scholarship to study at a university in Boston. Instead she joined the staff of Baragwanath Hospital as the country’s first black woman social worker.
During this period she became more involved within the broad African National Congress (ANC) networks and the work of the ANC Women’s League.
Her achievements weren’t rare just for a black South African woman in a racist society; they were highly unusual for any woman regardless of class and race in the society at that time.
As were call Madikizela’ s life it’ s important to remember that in 1957– by the age of just 21 and before she met Mandela–she was already extremely accomplished.
PICTURED: THE LATE MOTHER OF THE NATION. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was hailed by her supporters as a feminist icon. She became the leader of the women’s wing of the ANC in 1993, and believed that black women suffered from “a triple yoke of oppression”...