Winnie: A loyal custodian of our history and heritage
WHERE does one begin to pay tribute to a phenomenal woman. There is so much to say about your bravery, your strength, your beauty and above all your great love for your people. What is the biggest insult that one can use for a woman?
Many men when annoyed with women , often call them cows, female dogs, sluts and so on. In other words, women are insulted by being called female. Her very existence is an insult to men.
It is fitting, therefore, to open this tribute to Mama in her own words: “There is no longer anything I can fear. There is nothing the government has not done to me. There isn’t any pain I have not known.”
I am sure that Mama will not hold it against me, if I paraphrase her words: “There is no longer anything that I can fear. There is nothing the government and my beloved movement, the glorious, black, green and gold movement has not done to me. There isn’t any pain I have not known.”
To me, Comrade Winnie, you will always be the queen of our struggle and the queen of my heart. You are the champion of resistance against the brutality of the boers and yet at the same time our morning star: Mphatlalatsane Naledi ya meso. The brightest star.
Mama, you never knew peace. I look at you on your wedding day, you look so beautiful and yet so innocent. Did you know, Mama? Did you know that your wedding day would be the last day in which you knew happiness?
In 1994, when we achieved political freedom, how did you feel, Mama? I know how you felt. You cried as I was standing next to you when the new flag of South Africa was hoisted high, you cried because so many people suffered and died for this freedom.
I know how you felt about our new national anthem and I know you passed on not being able to sing it in full. To me that was your sign of disapproval of it. I know how you felt, Mama.
April 2, 2018, 4.22pm is forever cast in stone. The heavens rejoiced having gained a new citizen and the earth wept, having lost a daughter of the soil.
A part of me rejoices, Mama, at last you are at peace, no more shall you suffer.
Mama, we the members of the black, green and gold failed you. Time and time again we betrayed you. I apologise for all the traitors who initiated investigations against you to ensure that you lived out your last days behind bars.
I apologise for the words of Comrade Mbeki which cut me to the core.
I want to say sorry for Comrade Mantashe calling you ill-disciplined. Most of all I apologise on behalf of Tata who felt that it was necessary to apologise for your behaviour.
Your biggest sin, Mama, was being a woman, a mother looking out for her children.
You took the insults, the illtreatment in your stride. Ever the strong and jovial woman you always had time for a joke. It is with a smile that I remember your testimony at the TRC: “I admit nothing , I deny everything.”
You were correct, Mama. There was nothing to admit, nothing to apologise for. We instead are the ones who owe you an apology. On half of the ANC, Mother, we are sorry. Go now and join our ancestors. Send my greetings to OR Tambo, Chris Hani, Harry Gwala, Walter Sisulu, and Moses Mabhida. Tell them that they did not die in vain; tell them that the land is coming back. Tell them that the dignity of the black man will at last be restored .Extend our apologies to Ruth First, Ruth Mompati, Helen Joseph, Dorothy Nyembe, Faith Radebe and Albertina Sisulu. Tell them that more than two decades after political liberation, women are still not liberated. Women are vilified for being women.
On behalf of former uMkhonto weSizwe soldiers whom you sheltered, provided with food, money and jobs, we salute you and we say thank you, we entrust your soul to Almighty God. Rest in eternal and powerful peace, Mama weSizwe.
RESILIENT: Winnie Madikizela -Mandela
Mthetheleli Mncube, right, and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.