Farewell Win­nie Huge crowds at­tend fu­neral

The Guardian Weekly - - International News - Ja­son Burke

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.

Photo: Char­lie Shoe­maker/Getty

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