Winnie Madikizela Mandela


Born on the 26th of September 1939 in the village of Mbongweni, Bizana, in the Transkei (Eastern Cape.) Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela is a visionary woman leader who has been without a doubt a key piece in the emancipation of the people of South Africa. Popularly known as "The Mother of the Nation" by many, Winnie Madikizela Mandela is a woman of real substance and gut. Throughout her life she has shown nothing but qualities of true leadership and patriotism.

Besides being a political activist at an early age in her life she was a dedicated scholar who completed her degree in social work in 1955. She won a scholarship to study further in the USA but she couldn't allow herself to turn her back on the responsibility to uplift the people of South Africa. She worked as a social worker at Baragwaneth Hospital caring and giving support to those who she felt will benefit the most from it, her people.

Her love for politics became intensified while working at the hospital. She was particularly influenced by the research she had carried out in Alexandra Township to establish the rate of infantile mortality, which stood at 10 deaths for every 1,000 births and she worked tirelessly to prevent this from happening in the communities.

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    Through her activism she became deeply involved in the African National Congress (ANC). In 1957, she met Nelson Mandela. At the time he was on trial, along with 155 other people, in the now infamous Treason Trial following the civil disobedience campaigns of the early 1950s. They were married on 19 June 1958 in a Methodist service in the Transkei, after which Winnie settled in Mandelas home in Soweto.

    This was a match made in heaven however life was not easy at all for Mama Winnie Mandela as they were constantly under watch by the South African Apartheid government. Because of her radical political activities she was closely monitored by the government, she was arrested under the Suppression of Terrorism Act and spent more than a year in solitary confinement, where she was tortured, beaten and starved. Upon her release, she continued her activism and was jailed several more times.

     Then after the Soweto 1976 uprisings where hundreds of students were killed, she was forced by the government to relocate to the border town of Brandfort in 1977 and placed under house arrest. She described the experience as alienating and heart-wrenching, yet she continued to speak out, as in a 1981 statement to the BBC on black South African economic might and its ability to overturn the system. In 1985, after her home was firebombed, Winnie returned to Soweto and continued to agitate against the regime even during government media bans.

    Her actions continued to cement the title bestowed upon her, "Mother of the Nation." Despite attacks she they have never successfully defeated her. Her regal nature and spirit of resilience is what earned her the reputation of a terrorist to many who knew her power but did not want to acknowledge her.

    Winnie Mandela gave up so much to fight for the freedom of South African people; she sacrificed her family, marriage and career to see a new South Africa. That is what leadership is. If we can have women of her caliber in power again, South Africa will be an ever greater nation. Mama is fearless woman who led endowed with immense strength and wisdom.