Brand South Africa CEO Kingsley Makhubela says the legacy of freedom fighter, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who passed away on 4 April 2018, must be celebrated.
“As South Africa mourns the loss of a brave, courageous leader. We also celebrate her sacrifices and achievements over a lifetime of dedicated service to and making the dream of a free and prosperous South Africa a reality.
“We are forever grateful for the role she played in securing our freedom. We indeed need to celebrate her legacy,” said Makhubela.
The 81-year-old Madikizela-Mandela passed away at Milpark Netcare Hospital in Johannesburg after a long-illness.
Makhubela lived with Madikizela-Mandela after her husband Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
Prior to marrying Madikizela-Mandela, the late former statesman, said it was “her spirit, her passion, her courage, her wilfulness” that drew him to her.
A true patriot, Madikizela-Mandela faced untold hardships during the apartheid years, spending much of her time in and out of prison following clashes with apartheid police.
The first black professional social worker in South Africa, Madikizela-Mandela had been married to Mandela for just a few years, when he was sentenced to life in prison in 1962.
Like many black women of her generation, she was forced to become a single mother to her two small daughters and was thrust into the limelight as a ‘political widow’.
“We were hardly a year together when history deprived me of you,” she wrote in a letter to Mandela while he was in prison in 1970, published in her autobiography 491 Days, Prisoner Number 1323/69.
Madikizela-Mandela took up the challenge of continuing to resist the racism and sexism that defined her generation with a maturity beyond her years.
“It was thanks largely to her, that international attention remained focused on the story of Nelson Mandela and the fight against Apartheid while he served out his prison sentence,” said Makhubela.
Tributes pour in for Mama Winnie
Following her passing, scores of tributes have poured in for the struggle stalwart reflecting on her life and the sacrifices she made to secure the country’s freedom.
In tribute to Madikizela-Mandela, President Cyril Ramaphosa called for South Africans to “draw inspiration from the struggles that she fought and the dream of a better society to which she dedicated her life”.
“She refused to be bowed by the imprisonment of her husband, the perpetual harassment of her family by security forces, detentions, bannings and banishment. Her courageous defiance was deeply inspirational to me, and to generations of activists,” said Nobel laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu after her passing.
Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, once part of the legal team who defended Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, said she had an “incredible ability to be able to take on injustice and soak up pain in a way that is not immediately describable”.
“Mam’ Winnie lost her innocence because of a struggle she actually didn’t choose, the struggle entrusted upon her by the husband she chose and the people she identified with – the vulnerable people who were discriminated because of apartheid,” said Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO, Sello Hatang, in tribute to her.