No easy walk to hon­our­ing Mam’Win­nie

The Sunday Independent - - Leader -

THE pain and ela­tion South Africans have felt over the past two weeks has un­earthed sig­nif­i­cant truths and re­vi­talised a rev­o­lu­tion­ary spirit.

Mam’ Win­nie’s death may well prove to be a turn­ing point in how the na­tion – and more par­tic­u­larly the ANC – sees it­self 24 years af­ter the dawn of democ­racy.

Un­be­liev­ably, Win­nie Madik­ize­la­Man­dela never saw the right­ing of wrongs around her reputation which has hap­pened so rapidly over the past 12 days. Sud­denly peo­ple who could have re­stored her role as the Mother of the Na­tion have come to light with in­for­ma­tion that has al­tered per­cep­tions about her as much as it has con­firmed how racially di­vided South Africa still re­mains.

Equally, there have been swings around that very in­for­ma­tion, with even loyal in­di­vid­u­als sug­gest­ing we ought not to be en­tirely for­giv­ing of Mam’ Win­nie. She made er­rors of judg­ment, likely through her own pro­found trauma.

The late 1980s were hor­rific and Mam’ Win­nie was as vi­tal to the end­ing of the Strug­gle as she was cen­tral to some as­pects of its vi­o­lent de­noue­ment. So, yes, there is pain and there is ela­tion. But to­day, as South Africa starts to move away from a story that has so deeply oc­cu­pied us for two weeks, the ANC will have to in­cor­po­rate those lessons learned into its broader con­sid­er­a­tion of how to move for­ward.

A lot was made clear. Some of its he­roes have come away less heroic; some marginalised he­roes have re-emerged. But, per­haps more im­por­tantly, we now know there must be a real re­vis­it­ing of the past in or­der to make progress.

The peo­ple want to know what hap­pened. They want, at last, a proper res­o­lu­tion out of the TRC. They want the ANC to ac­count and stop pa­per­ing over what ag­o­nises us.

Hon­our­ing Mam’ Win­nie’s legacy is go­ing to be no easy task. It was less com­pli­cated with Nel­son Man­dela when he died be­cause he was still a shin­ing fig­ure of virtue. His name has lost some of that lus­tre since then as more knowl­edge comes to the fore around his fail­ings and his in­abil­ity to con­cen­trate less on pleas­ing the mi­nor­ity and more on se­cur­ing a fu­ture for the poor.

In the end, for all her flaws, Madik­izela-Man­dela was con­stant in try­ing to hold to­gether a move­ment fall­ing to pieces. Nel­son Man­dela was so cor­ralled by the ANC and its de­ter­mi­na­tion to cre­ate an eco­nomic or­der suited to the de­mands of the West that it may be true that he as­sisted the very crum­bling of its rev­o­lu­tion­ary soul.

The ANC has very lit­tle time left to mean­ing­fully get back what it has lost. But there can be no doubt that Mam’ Win­nie was ANC to the last, even as she em­braced the EFF. That may help the ANC. That may have given it some­thing back that it des­per­ately needed.

Now it will take all the vigour in its power to har­ness what it gained through Mam’ Win­nie and bring it­self back to its core.

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