Mother of the Nation, a daughter of the soil

ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

The biggest tree has fallen. A woman among women has fallen.

An icon of the Struggle, iqhawe lamaqhawe lihambile!

Umaphuma efumbethe esiswini sikanina aze ahambe efumbethe ukuba yinkokheli yabantu.

South Africa has a long time to wait until she gets such a lioness who fought the apartheid regime as well as the oppression and patriarchy within the ANC, her movement, with all her might.

My heart is bleeding but I know the heart of many a woman is celebrating because of what she did for them.

She fought tirelessly, defending the whole nation up until the enemy was misguided with the hope of destroying her, but she prevailed and, as usual, stood the test of time.

I am sure that much as we are crying, we are proud to be her products, we are proud because she gave us an opportunity to celebrate her life where women like Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu and Criselda Kananda Dudumashe had an opportunity to wear the women's league blouse in her presence.

Throughout celebrating her life, she allowed us to show our small ability to honour her bravery, love, commitment and ability of an unassuming daughter of the soil.

Nothing was ever able to shut her down.

When Bab' uGwala told us Mam' Winnie never joined government but joined the ANC when she was fired from cabinet, we were made better persons with Sis' Thandi Modise and Lulu Xingwana.

We wanted to fight for her to remain in cabinet and Bab' uGwala said no one can expel Winnie from the ANC and indeed no one expelled her from her organisation.

She and Bab' uGwala marshalled angry forces who had numerously been attacked by the third force and forces of darkness at the memorial service of Chris Hani in Pietermaritzburg's former market square.

It was during that period at a stadium in Johannesburg where Bab' uGwala predicted that South Africa will never be the same.

I have known so many people in the ANC, I have come across many heroes and heroines of the Struggle but I have never come across such a fighter as Mam' uWinnie who would fight without any support from her own or, even disowned by her own, continued with the fight for liberation and her own personal freedom without any weapon.

Mama sent young people out of the country to train as freedom fighters for the liberation of this country.

Mama had love for everyone, her children, the children of the Struggle, the soldiers of Umkhonto weSizwe, she even loved those that hated her with a passion.

She was a real soldier and welcomed the whites who were a symbol of apartheid and repression.

Touch the ANC and you touch her soul. Touch her kids, touch Shell House and touch the youth league, you will know you have touched her.

Touch Chris Hani, Harry Gwala, Tony Yengeni, Jeff Radebe, Peter Mokaba, Bantu Holomisa! Touch Ace Magashule, Touch the women you will see her!

Mama would have been much satisfied if the Struggle had been won on the battlefield but she accepted the decision of the ANC leadership to negotiate with the apartheid regime.

She loved and had a soft spot for Peter Mokaba, Lulu Xingwana, Malusi Gigaba and more for Fikile Mbalula and Julius Malema for their roaring voices and ability to shake the youth to defend the ANC.

A beautiful woman inside and on the outside. A beautiful woman who had the toughest of contests.

It was one of war meant to be fought by men and not just ordinary men but only brave men and women who participated in this Struggle.

Her contest was not for the wicked but for those who had a deep understanding of the freedom of the mind; freedom from the chains of apartheid and freedom from poverty.

Her spirit was never dampened by Brandfort, instead she was more productive and liberated herself from banishment.

It is heartening that a woman who was crucified by many goes during this period of Easter.

Mam' Winnie would come to an ANC rally draped in her John Wesley women's manyano uniform for she knew the power of prayer.

Mama, you earned being Mother of the Nation and no one could take that away from you.

Thank you Zenani and Zindzi for sharing her.

Thank you to Sis' Zodwa and everyone who did the work of the nation by looking after Mama with love and excellence.

Thank you for your love and patience.

Thank you for accepting everyone and opening your hearts to each and every one of us.

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