“The years of imprisonment hardened me… I no longer have the emotion of fear… There is no longer anything I can fear. There is nothing the government has not done to me. There isn’t any pain I haven’t known.” -Winnie Mandela
I knew her not, neither did I ever meet nor speak to her. My geographical location was nowhere near her country. The South and the West are not that close, you know?. She only existed in my heart and mind. My first encounter with her was when I got introduced to ‘her’ in the movie, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”. Actress Naomie Harris really portrayed the character, Winnie Mandela, very well. She brought Winnie’s personality very close to me and I have really admired that character since then.
To think that there were women who were fearless in the face of tough times was just something I could never take my mind off. She was ready to go to prison for her country’s freedom; such selflessness. She was such a force to reckon with. Firm, strong, encouraging and totally unshaken by the chaos around her.
To her daughters, she must have been a pillar to lean on. I can only imagine how much of a disciplinarian that she was, leading her daughters on the path of bravery. She must have also been a motherly figure for others to learn from, looking at how she single-handedly raised her children in her husband’s absence. Listening to some of her speeches was heartwarming as she knew how get away with mixing humor and controversies together. At 80, she was still beaming with beauty, sharing with us her anti-aging facial expressions.
- Nelson and Winnie after his release
The chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said this about her, “Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was an icon of the liberation struggle against apartheid in South Africa. She will forever be remembered as a fearless campaigner who sacrificed much of her life for freedom in South Africa. She never relented in her struggle or wavered in her commitment, despite imprisonment, banishment, and decades-long separation from her then husband Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment”.
Winnie Mandela was also a voice for women echoing, “To those who oppose us, we say, ‘Strike the woman, and you strike the rock’.” From all of us across the globe we say Live on! May your good works remain in our hearts and minds till we meet again.