The nation came to a standstill on Monday 2 April 2018 with the news of Mam’ Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s passing. The struggle heroine, who devoted her life to equality and women’s rights, died at the age of 81 at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg following a long illness.
An extract from the official press statement by the Mandela family reads:
“Mrs Madikizela-Mandela was one of the greatest icons of the struggle against apartheid. She fought valiantly against the apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country. Her activism and resistance to apartheid landed her in jail on numerous occasions‚ eventually causing her banishment to the small town of Brandfort in the then Orange Free State.
She kept the memory of her imprisoned husband Nelson Mandela alive during his years on Robben Island and helped give the struggle for justice in South Africa one its most recognisable faces. She dedicated most of her adult life to the cause of the people and for this was known far and wide as the Mother of the Nation.
The Mandela family are deeply grateful for the gift of her life and even as our hearts break at her passing‚ we urge all those who loved her to celebrate this most remarkable woman.”
She was often referred to as ‘Madiba’s (ex) wife’, but many do not know just how big her contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle was. Here are some of the memorable highlights in the Mother of the Nation’s life:
- In 1953, Madikizela-Mandela moved to Johannesburg from her place of birth, Bizana (Eastern Cape) to pursue her Social Work studies at the Jan Hofmeyr School of Social Work. She completed her degree in 1955 and became the first black medical social worker at Baragwanath Hospital.
- She was first imprisoned in 1958 for her role in the anti-pass campaign, and in the same year married Nelson Mandela, a member of the African National Congress’ national executive who later became the first black president of the Democratic Republic of South Africa.
- In 1969‚ Madikizela-Mandela became one of the firsts to be detained under Section 6 of theTerrorism Act of 1967. After being detained for 18 months in solitary confinement in a condemned cell at Pretoria Central Prison, she was charged under the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950.
- She was at Mandela’s side the time he was realised from Robben Island in 1990.
- In 1993 and 1997, Ma Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was elected president of the ANC Women’s League.
Source : Independent Online , African News Agency/ANA