Lala ngox­olo Qhawe lamaQhawe

Vuk'uzenzele - - From Tyhoeuutnhiofnocbuusildings -

The spear has fallen and we are a coun­try in mourn­ing. We have lost yet an­other iconic free­dom fighter who ded­i­cated her life to build­ing a South Africa of which we can all be proud.

Mam’ Win­nie Madik­ize­laMan­dela was a free­dom fighter, and a leader who de­fied the odds.

In her early life, she moved to Jo­han­nes­burg from the Transkei to fur­ther her stud­ies, how­ever her ex­po­sure to so­cial in­jus­tices caused by apartheid moved her to ac­tion. She took it upon her­self to be part of the move­ment of change and work to­wards a free and fair South Africa. It took the bet­ter part of her life to re­alise this as­pi­ra­tion.

Mam’ Win­nie passed away in a month that is sym­bolic to all of us as it’s a time when we as a coun­try re­flect on the jour­ney trav­elled thus far as well as the jour­ney we must all travel in or­der for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to en­joy free­dom.

South Africa has lost a mother, a grand­mother, a friend, a com­rade, a leader and an icon.

She was the face of hope, a sym­bol of free­dom and a coura­geous rev­o­lu­tion­ary. In the midst of re­pres­sion, she was a voice of de­fi­ance and re­sis­tance.

In the face of ex­ploita­tion, she was a cham­pion of jus­tice and equal­ity.

Through­out her life she made an ev­er­last­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the strug­gle through sac­ri­fice and her un­yield­ing de­ter­mi­na­tion. Her ded­i­ca­tion to the plight of her peo­ple gained her the love and the re­spect of the na­tion.

For many years, she bore the brunt of the sense­less bru­tal­ity of the apartheid state with sto­icism and for­ti­tude. De­spite the hard­ships she faced, she never doubted that the strug­gle for free­dom and democ­racy would suc­ceed.

She re­mained a tire­less ad­vo­cate for the dis­pos­sessed and the marginalised through­out her life. She was a voice for the voice­less. be­ing ap­pointed Min­is­ter of Forestry and Agri­cul­ture in the Transkei Ban­tus­tan dur­ing Kaizer Matanz­ima’s rule. Her mother was a sci­ence teacher.

In 1953 she was ad­mit­ted to Jan Hofmeyr School of So­cial Work in Jo­han­nes­burg. This was the first time she left the Transkei and it was dur­ing her stud­ies that she ex­pe­ri­enced the full ef­fects of apartheid.

Mam’ Win­nie fin­ished top of her class in 1955 and was of­fered a schol­ar­ship to fur­ther her stud­ies in the United States. At the same time she was of­fered the po­si­tion of med­i­cal so­cial worker at the Barag­wanath Hos­pi­tal in Jo­han­nes­burg. She opted to stay in South Africa and in so do­ing be­came the first black mem­ber of staff to fill that po­si­tion.

Dur­ing this time she met and be­friended Ade­laide Tsukudu, the wife of for­mer African Na­tional Congress pres­i­dent Oliver Tambo. Her in­ter­est in pol­i­tics grew and her work as an ac­tivist started.

Mam’ Win­nie met Nel­son Man­dela dur­ing this time and the two cel­e­brated their en­gage­ment to­gether in Jo­han­nes­burg on 25 May 1958.

Their mar­riage had to be strong enough to deal with mul­ti­ple court cases launched by the apartheid state against Nel­son Man­dela, as well as po­lice raids and an un­sta­ble up­bring­ing for their chil­dren Ze­nani and Zindziswe.

Mam’ Win­nie was part of the mass ac­tion or­gan­ised by women against the apartheid gov­ern­ment’s pass laws which was led by Lil­ian Ngoyi, Al­bertina Sisulu, among oth­ers.

The ar­rest and sub­se­quent 27-year im­pris­on­ment of Nel­son Man­dela changed the di­rec­tion of Mam’ Win­nie’s life.

Her move­ments were re­stricted, she was ha­rassed, in­tim­i­dated and even­tu­ally banned and she was kept in soli­tary con­fine­ment for more than 200 days with­out see­ing her two young chil­dren.

How­ever, she was not de­terred. Mam’ Win­nie stood firm in her fight for a just so­ci­ety and in the be­lief that South Africa would be free one day.

It is now up to all of us to re­mem­ber her legacy and con­tinue her strug­gle for jus­tice and equal­ity for all.

Let us re­mem­ber the rich, re­mark­able and mean­ing­ful life of our very own heroine and draw in­spi­ra­tion from the strug­gles that she fought and the dream of a bet­ter so­ci­ety to which she ded­i­cated her life.

The time has come for all of us to take a col­lec­tive deep breath, pick up the spear and con­tinue to work to­wards chang­ing the lives of all our peo­ple.

Rest in peace mother of the na­tion.

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