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Winnie Madikizela Mandela's 81 years as a mother of a nation

15 April 2018, 12:34 | Marta Robbins

'World lucky to have witnessed #WinnieMandela's greatness'

Culture shock for Brazilian photographer attending Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's memorial

Recalling a recent conversation with her daughter Zenani Dlamini, he said she cried when she said her mother had lived a hard life. I truly believe that it is worth repeating that long before it was fashionable to call for Nelson Mandela's release from Robben Island, it was my mother who kept his memory alive.

"South Africa, and indeed the world, holds men and women to different standards of morality". Praising her now in her death show how hypocritical we are as a nation. "Until the end Mama (Mother) Winnie raised her voice in support of meaningful transformation in the South African society".

The burial ceremony will take place later today, the final act in two weeks of official mourning. "I'm sorry mama that we delayed this much", he said, delivering the eulogy.

Ramaphosa says that Winnie's life was dedicated to the African people, and revolved around service to her people.

There were loud cheers when the radical Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema paid tribute to Mrs Madikizela-Mandela.

Earlier, mourners sang and cheered as Madikizela-Mandela's body was brought into the 40,000-seat Orlando stadium, filled to capacity for the funeral service.

Madikizela-Mandela's legacy, however, was later tarnished.

Mourners lined the streets of Soweto as the hearse carrying the body of the anti-apartheid icon returned to her home
Mourners lined the streets of Soweto as the hearse carrying the body of the anti-apartheid icon returned to her home

Winnie Madikizela Mandela's leadership credentials across the world are receiving wider appreciation and magnification, while her flaws have slipped into insignificance. While the pain she endured during the years could not be forgiven, she did not allow it to break her spirit and humanity. Mourners booed when the presence of scandal-tainted Zuma was publicly acknowledged. The funeral was also attended by foreign dignitaries from Swaziland, Namibia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and an American civil activist Jesse Jackson among others. "It is hard to accept that she is no longer with us". But she touched our wounds all the time.

The township of Soweto is hugely symbolic in South Africa as it became a crucible of black resistance to white minority rule which ended with elections in 1994.

I hope that the rediscovery of the truth about my mother helps South Africans come to terms with the pivotal role that she, Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela, played in freeing us from the shackles of the system of terrorism and white supremacy known as Apartheid. Many memorializing Madikizela-Mandela have recognized her as a political force in her own right.

Speaking during a memorial at Brandfort where Winnie was banished by the apartheid forces, Patricia de Lille spoke about the woman she knew in close quarters.

In 1991, a court found Madikizela-Mandela guilty of the boy's kidnapping and assault and sentenced her to six years in jail.

But her controversial reputation was largely brushed aside in the wake of her death with tributes to her bravery, independence and integrity dominating public commemorations.

In old age, Winnie Mandela emerged as a respected elder who was feted as a living reminder of her late husband - and of the long and celebrated struggle against apartheid.

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