I HAVE not since the death of Thembisile Chris Hani, Fidel Castro and my mother Masechaba Khoabane, felt as devastatingly sad as I was this afternoon at the news that Mama Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had died. Paralysed I was when a friend sent me the message that “Winnie was gone”.
I had just yesterday been speaking to Zindzi, her daughter, about meeting this week. We were going to talk about our beloved country and the blindfolds that we all wear. I will now never know what we were going to discuss but it is likely the state of our country and her political party, the African National Congress (ANC) which she recently said was “captured”. That is Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who sacrificed her life for the freedom we have today. She stood for truth and justice for the downtrodden and poor. And she was not willing to compromise those views simply because the political party for which she fought so bravely, came into power and deceived its people.
We were also going to see how to remedy a mess-up by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation and a whole lot of other powerful people over a book which was forged in the name of uTata Nelson Mandela.
But that is what the Nelson Mandela brand had become – a commercial entity which could be misused and abused by those who sought to benefit financially. And despite its iconic stature, Mama Winnie would not hesitate to speak out against her former husband and the party he led.
Mama Winnie was a revolutionary to the end. When the ANC was unbanned and negotiated a political settlement, she became too expensive for the price the African National Congress (ANC) had paid to cement the fake rainbow nation that we now have. She made mistakes along the way for which she was severely condemned till today while her male counterparts are praised. She had an extra-marital affair but her husband seemingly did too.
One of her famous speeches, in which she said anti-apartheid activists would use the gruesome “necklace” method of killing to liberate South Africa, was in effect a call to kill police collaborators in black townships.
An apartheid operative interviewed for a recent documentary on Winnie and thankfully it was released before she died, confesses that she had become a headache and there was an all out campaign to vilify her.
The killing of Stompie Seipei, a 14-year-old activist accused of being an informer, killed after being abducted by Madikizela-Mandela’s bodyguards and beaten at her house in late 1988 managed to create such worldwide media coverage that even the ANC deserted her. She has always denied that she had anything to do with his killing.
In the documentary, Winnie explains that she was the only ANC leader who was put through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission but it is clear, from some of the apartheid operatives interviewed the extent of the machination to make this murder stick on her. Archbishop Tutu is at pains asking her to say sorry. And she refuses. She later says she couldnt forgive Tutu and asked for forgiveness for not being able to forgive him. There are many others who turned their backs against her and only appear at her house on the eve of elections.
She who had done so much for the struggle for the liberation of our country while others dithered was not only persecuted by her oppressors but by those for she helped liberate.
This is hastily written piece. I will, tomorrow post the documentary and other pictures of this great revolutionary.