South Africans mourn Winnie Mandela in a massive funeral laced with tension

Saul Bowman
April 15, 2018

Many mourners were clad in the green and yellow colors of the ANC. Members of the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party also attended in large numbers.

"South Africa, and indeed the world, holds men and women to different standards of morality". We see you in your attractive suits, betrayers! "Give us a sign Mama", said Malema.

"Equally big Mama, some of those who sold you to the regime are here and are crying louder than all of us who stood by you". Zukiswa was speaking for the Madikizela family at Orlando stadium during the funeral proceedings.

Much of the national conversation around Madikizela-Mandela legacy has been driven by the documentary Winnie.

The ceremony concluded 10 days of national mourning during which time thousands of South Africans have paid tribute to the "Mother of the Nation" at her Soweto home and elsewhere. "Many youth activists were personally released by Winnie Mandela from the custody vans of the apartheid military". He continued, "Yet through everything Mama Winnie endured they could not break her, they could not silence her".

From the very start of the official programme, some of the people who filled the 40 000 capacity stadium made their views known - booing former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma when their presence was announced at the funeral. Dignitaries also included Presidents of the Republic of Congo and Namibia, as well as civil rights leaders from around the world, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

"The pain inflicted on her lives on in us", she said, with her sister Zindzi standing next to her at the podium.

"However, we are happy that after her death truth has been coming out one by one, ' she added".

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


Ramaphosa said, "We must continue to touch Mama's wounds, acknowledge her vast pain and torment, and pass on the stories of her suffering to future generations so that it may always be known that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was a giant, a pathfinder, a soldier, a healer, a champion of people's struggles and forever the Mother of the Nation".

In a eulogy read by Princess Zenani Mandela-Dlamini, the family recounted how the media and the government smeared Mandela's name with countless allegations, robbing her the rightful legacy she deserved as a liberation hero. In 1993 she was elected president of African Nationa Congress (ANC).

As the curtains fall for a woman who was demonised by both the apartheid regime and the new administration led by her ex-husband, South Africans are outraged at how the Mother of the Nation was betrayed.

Not until 1974, when she was 16 years old, could she visit him.

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

"Even as she lies here in her mortal state, she refuses to be silent".

Most of their 38-year marriage was spent apart, leaving her to raise their two daughters alone as she kept his political dream alive.

The former wife of Nelson Mandela died earlier this month at the age of 81.

On Saturday, a 21-gun salute will be fired at her final resting place.

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