Mama Winnie lives on

Saturday, April 14, 2018

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africans to honour the memory of the late struggle icon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, by uniting in a common purpose to heal the divisions of the past and eradicate inequality.

“Let us honour her memory by pledging here that we will dedicate all our resources, all our efforts, all our energy to the empowerment of the poor and vulnerable.

“Let us honour her memory by pledging here that we will not betray the trust of her people, we will not squander or steal their resources, and that we will serve them diligently and selflessly,” said President Ramaphosa.

He said Mama Winnie has died, but she is not gone.

“She lives on in the nation that called her ‘Mama’, as it strives each day to fulfil its destiny as a united, peaceful, prosperous and just society.”

Orlando Stadium in Soweto was on Saturday filled to capacity as mourners bid farewell to the woman affectionately known as the “Mother of the Nation”.

Former Presidents Jacob Zuma, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe as well Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso and Namibian President Hage Geingob were among the dignitaries who attended the funeral to pay their final respects.

Madikizela-Mandela passed away on 2 April at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg. According to her family, Madikizela-Mandela died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year.

President Ramaphosa said during the dark days of the struggle, Madikizela-Mandela felt compelled to pick up the spear where it had fallen.

“She felt compelled to organise, to mobilise, to lead when those who led our people had been sent across the bay to the island, whilst others were forced to flee beyond our borders or were martyred by a state that knew no mercy.

“It was a spear that, throughout the darkest moments of our struggle, she wielded with great courage, unequivocal commitment and incredible skill,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said Madikizela-Mandela’s will was matched by a keen political sense and a presence that inspired both awe and admiration.

He commended her for choosing to live a life of service and compassion.

“She chose as her vocation the alleviation of the suffering of others. She trained and worked as one who provides support and care and comfort to those most deeply affected by poverty, hunger and illness.”

The President described her as an African woman who – in her attitude, words and actions – defied the very premise of apartheid ideology and male superiority.

“Proud, defiant, articulate, she exposed the lie of apartheid. She challenged the attitudes, norms, practices and social institutions that perpetuated – in ways both brutal and subtle – the inferior status of women. Loudly and without apology, she spoke truth to power,” he said.

Those in power were insecure and fearful of her.

“Yet, through everything, she endured. They could not break her. They could not silence her. They miscalculated greatly because in truth, they sent her to live among her people – to share in their trials, tribulations and hardships, to share their hopes and aspirations, and to draw courage from their daily struggle against the tyranny of racial subjugation.

“The enemy expected her to return from Brandfort diminished, broken and defeated,” President Ramaphosa said.

Instead, she emerged from these torments emboldened, driven by a burning desire to give voice to the aspirations of her people. “To give them hope. To give them courage. To lead them to freedom,” President Ramaphosa said.

President Geingob said he had come to mourn and celebrate the life of Madikizela-Mandela, who remained rooted in her people.

“The enemy striked a woman but was defeated by the rock,” President Geingob said.

Madikizela-Mandela will be laid to rest at the Fourways Memorial Park Cemetery. The period of mourning, as declared by the President following her passing, will end on Saturday evening.

She is survived by her daughters Zenani Mandela-Dlamini and Zindzi Mandela as well as her grandchildren. –



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