The French journalist Stephen Smith recently wrote about Winnie Madikizela Mandela that “… if any one person can stand in for the country, it’s surely Winnie, half ‘mother of the nation’ and half township gangsta, deeply ambiguous, scarred and disfigured by the struggle.” Winnie Mandela also told Smith what she thinks about the hero worship of her former husband (in the London Review of Books):

Mandela was extricated from the masses. He was made an idol, almost Jesus Christ! This is nonsense, a lot of nonsense. The freedom of this country was attained by the masses of this country. It was attained by the children who gave their lives in 1976, who faced machine guns with stones and dustbin lids. It was attained by women who were left to fend for their families. They fought the enemy! We are the ones who fought the enemy physically, who went out to face their bullets. The leaders were cushioned behind bars. They don’t know. They never engaged the enemy on the battlefield …

* BTW, the photo at the top of this post is of Winnie Madikizela Mandela at a memorial service (at Khotso House in Johannesburg) on October 18, 1985 with Pauline Moloise (left), the mother of Benjamin Moloise, a poet and worker activist who had been hanged earlier that morning (Gill de Vlieg).

When the Fokn Bois visited a picturesque Dutch village
#Watch Binyavanga's brilliant YouTube documentary calling out the BS behind "African" homophobia
The following two tabs change content below.

5 thoughts on “Winnie Mandela on the South African exceptionalism embodied by Nelson Mandela

  1. True, but who would lead the masses once freedom was attained? Winnie? How did the masses confront the enemy other than stones and dustbin lids. Remember the kangaroo courts and neck-lacings? What about her soccer team and the murder of Mooketsi at only 13 years of age? She and her cronies denied children a childs life and sent children to their deaths, period! If it was not for Madiba’s leadership this country would have fallen into probably the bloodiest civil war Africa has ever seen.

  2. No one deserves better than Winnie Mandela,the Mother of modern South Africa.Nelson Mandela was the symbol of the apartheid struggle but Winnie epitomizes sacrifice few were willing to give

  3. Why do Afrikans care about what non-Afrikans think about Mama Winnie? Afrikans will absolve the Mother of the Afrikan World Revolution!!!!! Amandla! Awethu! Viva Winnie Mandela, Viva!

Leave a Reply