Former President Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, has expressed her sadness on the passing of struggle stalwart Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela.
In an open letter addressed to her “big sister”, Machel said she is struggling to accept Madikizela-Mandela’s death.
“As I struggle to accept your transition, I take solace in the fact that you have risen to become one of the brightest stars in the sky where you will remain ever present and radiantly shining. You will continue to serve as a guide to your loving family, your grateful nation, our beloved Africa, and indeed, the world.
“The extraordinary life you led is an example of resilient fortitude and inextinguishable passion that is a source of inspiration to us all, of how to courageously confront challenges with unwavering strength and determination. Thank you for your brilliant wisdom, your fierce defiance, and your stylish beauty,” Machel said.
Machel said Madikizela-Mandela loved South African people unconditionally and sacrificed so much for freedom.
“It is my prayer that as befitting tributes are paid to you both at home and abroad, all of us will internalize the values you helped to mould and birth into existence. As a nation, I hope we will stand tall and proud, and as uncompromising as you were in the defense and protection of our rights.
“As one of our brightest stars, continue to be the lioness that protects your children and your grandchildren. Warm their hearts so that while your transition may shake them, it does not break their spirit.”
Madikizela-Mandela passed away in the early hours of Monday, 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.
The official memorial service for Madikizela-Mandela will be held at Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Mkhize Street, Soweto, on Wednesday, 11 April.
In honour of the late Mam’ Winnie, President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared national days of mourning from 3 April until 14 April.