By Fr. Paul Samasumo
In death, tributes to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela have cemented her place as a fearless anti-apartheid campaigner in the liberation struggle. The history of South Africa can never be told without Winnie, the former wife of South Africa's first black president, Nelson Mandela.
South Africans gathered into the Monday night outside her Soweto home to pay tribute to the former first lady they called, ‘mother of the nation.’
The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference on Tuesday expressed condolences on the passing away of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and described her as a major figure in the struggle for a free and democratic South Africa in the last 50 years. Spokesperson of the Bishops’ conference, Archbishop William Slattery of Pretoria, praised Winnie as a committed activist and courageous leader.
Winnie was a trumpet call: To arise and press on
“For her (Winnie) that struggle involved separation from her husband and children, banishment, continual surveillance while bearing the expectations of the oppressed millions…In the dark and oppressive years her resistance to apartheid was like a trumpet call to thousands not to fall but to arise and press on,” Archbishop Slattery said.
Mistakes were made arising from suffering
Nevertheless, Archbishop Slattery acknowledged controversy in Winnie’s life saying only: “Mistakes were made arising from a suffering and impetuous heart.”
In similar manner Anti-apartheid and Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu also praised Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s courage during the liberation struggle saying: “Her courageous defiance was deeply inspirational to me and my generation.”
A mother, convinced and unstoppable
South African Catholic priest, educationist and poet, Fr. Lawrence Mduduzi Ndlovu published a poem in which he refers to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as a ‘mother, convinced and unstoppable.’