Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in her own words2 minute read

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was known by a number of different labels. ‘Anti-apartheid activist’, ‘former first lady of South Africa’, ‘Nelson Mandela’s first wife,’ ‘the Mother Of The Nation’. Since she passed away at the age of 81 on Easter Monday her death has lead to numerous tributes and generated debates about who she was and how she should be remembered. I suggest we pause and reflect and hear her in her own words.

  1. “To those who oppose us, we say, ‘Strike the woman, and you strike the rock’.”
  1. “They think because they have put my husband on an island that he will be forgotten. “They are wrong. The harder they try to silence him, the louder I will become.”

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  1. “If you are to free yourselves you must break the chains of oppression yourselves. Only then can we express our dignity, only when we have liberated ourselves can we co-operate with other groups. Any acceptance of humiliation, indignity or insult is acceptance of inferiority.”

  1. “Together, hand in hand, with our matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country.”
  2. The overwhelming majority of women accept the patriarchy and protect it. Traditionally, the violated wife offloads her aggression onto the daughter-in-law. Men dominate women through the agency of women themselves.” 

  1. “It is only when all black groups, join hands and speak with one voice that we shall be a bargaining force which will decide its own destiny.”
  2. “I’m not sorry. I will never be sorry. I would do everything I did again if I had to. Everything.”

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  1. “The years of imprisonment hardened me…. Perhaps if you have been given a moment to hold back and wait for the next blow, your emotions wouldn’t be blunted as they have been in my case. When it happens every day of your life, when that pain becomes a way of life, 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.”

  1. “Preventing the conflicts of tomorrow means changing the mindsets of the youth of today”
  2. “I am not Mandela’s product. I am the product of the masses of my country and the product of my enemy.”

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Julia Chanda Zvobgo is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ‘Of Africa’. She was born in Zimbabwe and raised in The Netherlands. As an Afropean she is always looking for new and creative ways to “make the invisible, visible”. She is a co-founder and a member of 'ethnovision' a collective of visual anthropologists and filmmakers. Julia also volunteers as the Director of Communications & Development for Tariro House of Hope, an NGO that transforms the lives of children and their communities in Zimbabwe.